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NOV 9 1993 
NOV 3 1993 

JUL 1 1 1997 

MAR 1 9 2006 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 















Some years ago, at the conclusion of a game of chess, Sir 
Sandford Fleming told me that he had been repeatedly urged 
to prepare for publication his reminiscences of sixty odd 
years in Canada. He did not feel equal to the task himself, 
but said that if I thought a biography would be of sufficient 
interest to justify the trouble, and would undertake it, he 
would be glad to give all the necessary particulars. There- 
after as occasion offered we talked over various incidents in 
his long and eventful life, and he placed in my hands a series 
of diaries running back to the year 1845, when he set out 
from Glasgow in the sailing ship Brilliant to seek his fortune 
in the New World. We were both rather busy with other 
matters, and as a result the biography progressed very 
slowly, but it was finally completed a few weeks before his 
death. Sir Sandford had taken the keenest interest in the 
completion of each chapter, and I had hoped that he would 
live to see the printed book. All references to him were 
therefore put in the present tense. Now that it has become 
necessary to add the irrevocable words that close the volume, 
it seems preferable to let the rest of the narrative stand as 
it was. Apart from all other considerations, I had rather 
think of the kind old friend with whom I spent so many 
delightful hours, and to whose wealth of human experi- 
ence I feel so deeply indebted, as a living than a dead 


September, 191 5. 

























A Voyage in a Sailing Ship 
Making a Footing in the New World 
Genesis of the Royal Canadian Institute 
Building the Northern Railway 
Pleading the Cause of the Red River 


The Birth of the Intercolonial 

Problems of the Survey 

Building the Intercolonial 

The Canadian Pacific Railway . 

Ocean to Ocean in 1872 

Over the Mountains by the Kicking Horse 

The British Isles in 1876 . 

The Pacific Cable .... 

A Diplomatic Mission to Honolulu 

The All -Red Line .... 

An Imperial Intelligence Service 

The Standard Time Movement . 

A Trip to Venice in 1881 . 

Queen's University and the Chancellor 

Around the World in 1893-4 

' Build up Canada ' 

An Imperial Monument 














Sir Sandford Fleming .... 

Sandford Fleming in 1845 

Facsimile of Passenger's Ticket to Canada 


Toronto in 1848. From an Engraving by Flem 

ing . 

The 'Josephine' 

Sandford Fleming in i860 

Winnipeg in 1870 .... 

The Valley of the Metapedia 

On the Restigouche .... 

Driving the Last Spike, C.P.R. 

The Overland Party of 1872 

Above the Yellowhead 

Eastern Portal to the Rockies . 

In the Heart of the Mountains . 

Sandford Fleming in 1895 

Sandford Fleming, Chancellor of Queen's 

Ottawa in 1845 ..... 

To face p. 10 















Sandford Fleming was by birth a Fifer ; that is to say 
he first saw the light, January 7, 1827, in the ' Lang Toun ' 
of Kirkcaldy, in the ancient Kingdom of Fife, the home of 
his forefathers for many generations. You will remember 
what Andrew Fairservice says in Rob Roy, ' Kirkcaldy, the 
sell o't, is langer than ony town in England '. His father was 
Andrew Greig Fleming, and his mother Elizabeth Arnot. 
He was named after his maternal grandfather Sandford 
Arnot, and after an uncle of the same name, a Sanskrit 
scholar of some renown then living in India. His mother's 
grandfather, one of the clan Cameron, fought at Culloden, 
and afterwards with seven others rowed Prince Charlie over 
to France. One of her uncles served under Wolfe at Quebec. 

Fleming's earliest schooling was obtained at Kennoway, 
the home of his grandmother, under a Mr. Bethune, who some 
years later emigrated to Canada and became master of the 
High School in Montreal. Eventually he settled as a resident 
missionary on the north shore of Lake Erie between Caledonia 
and Port Dover. At this same Kennoway school Dr. Allan 
Pollok, one of the leaders of the Presbyterian Church in 
Canada, also commenced his education. Fleming's edu- 
cation was continued at the Kirkcaldy Burgh School, the 
same of which Carlyle had been master some twenty years 
or so before. About the age of fourteen he became a pupil 
of the well-known Scottish engineer and surveyor John 
Sang, with whom he remained until he left for Canada in 


Of his boyhood days in the ancient seaport of Kirkcaldy 
we get random glimpses through the pages of a tattered 
diary, the first of a long series continued to the present day. 
* My present plan ', he puts down in his diary, in a boyish 


hand, ' is to write a sort of diary so that I can put there 
anything particular that happens or is of utility to recollect/ 

Kirkcaldy was then pretty much what Carlyle found it 
in 1816, a long straggling town, picturesque in its way, 
a characteristic bit of the Kingdom of Fife ; filled with 
a shrewd, hard-headed, and hard-working population ; the 
home of many industries. Carlyle has made both place and 
people immortal in his rough-hewn, compelling phrases : 
* The Kirkcaldy population were a pleasant honest kind of 
fellow mortals ; something of quietly fruitful, of good Old- 
Scotch in their works and ways ; more vernacular, peaceable, 
fixed, and almost genial, in their mode of life, than I had been 
used to in the Border home-land. Fife generally we liked. 
Those ancient little burghs and sea-villages, with their poor 
little havens/ salt-pans ', and weatherbeaten bits of Cyclopean 
breakwaters and rude innocent machineries, are still kindly 
to me to think of; — Kirkcaldy itself had many looms, 
had Baltic trade, Whale-fishery &c, and was a solidly 
diligent, yet by no means a panting, purring, or in any way 
gambling " Lang Toun "/ An ideal place, as some one else 
has said, for the nurture of economists, and here at least 
one world-famous economist was born and nurtured — Adam 
Smith, of the Wealth of Nations. 

But there was a quality in the shrewd yet kindly atmo- 
sphere of this Scottish town that led to other things than the 
dry bones of political economy. It nurtured in the boy 
Sandford Fleming that rare combination of gifts, the genius 
for dreaming great dreams and the capacity for bringing 
them to fruition. Here were planted the germs of mighty 
projects, destined to be developed in the course of time under 
other and distant skies. 

Turning the pages of the old diary, one comes upon this 
extract copied from Poor Richard's Almanack, than which 
nothing could more surely reveal the character of the boy : 
1 But dost thou love life ? Then do not squander time, for 
that is the stuff life is made of. How much more than is 
necessary do we spend in sleep, forgetting that the sleeping 
fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough 


in the grave. Sloth maketh all things difficult, but industry 
all easy ; and he that riseth late must trot all day and shall 
scarcely overtake his business at night ; while laziness 
travels so slow that poverty soon overtakes him/ Not to 
squander time has been one of the guiding principles of 
Sandford Fleming's life. It has made that life a full one in 
the broadest and best sense of the term. 

And the boy in those far-off Kirkcaldy days was already 
taking the lesson to heart. Under the guidance of one of 
the best of teachers he was rapidly mastering the principles 
of his chosen profession. He had shown in school a strong 
taste for mathematics, and threw himself into the study of 
engineering with an energy that scorned obstacles. His 
days were passed in technical instruction in Mr. Sang's 
office, and in gaining practical experience in harbour and 
waterworks, as well as railway surveys, especially across 
Fifeshire from Edinburgh to Perth and through the Carse of 
Gowrie, from Perth to Dundee. Also he made prolonged 
examinations of the southern uplands in connexion with the 
new Edinburgh water- works. For recreation, he joined 
a local chess club called the ' Divan ', and his diary for 
January 1845 records the progress of a tournament for the 
coveted rank of ' caliph ', in which he won his way to the 
final stage and lost by a single game. 

Up to his eighteenth year he had not seen much of the 
world beyond the heart of Scotland, embracing the group of 
counties extending from Perth and Dundee in the north to 
Lanark, Peebles, and Haddington in the south. He knew 
thoroughly, however, his own county, with its characteristic 
scenery, from the Ochil Hills to Loch Leven, the Lomonds to 
Largo Law and the East Neuk of Fife. He was familiar 
with the ruined palaces of Dunfermline and Falkland, and 
the manifold relics of other days between Queensferry and 
St. Andrews. Many a summer holiday had he fished the 
Leven waters, river and loch ; had become familiar with 
the historical associations of Loch Leven castle perched on 
its rock in the middle of the lake, the ancient residence of 
Scottish kings and the prison-house of the ill-fated Queen 


Mary. Loch Leven, once the scene of stirring and romantic 
events, is now better known as the arena of peaceful contests 
by the disciples of Izaak Walton. 

As a schoolboy, Fleming had played on the same Kirk- 
caldy beach that Carlyle loved so well : ' The beach of 
Kirkcaldy, in summer twilights, a mile of the smoothest 
sand, with one long wave coming on, gently, steadily, and 
breaking in gradual explosion, into harmless melodious white, 
at your hand all the way (the break of it, rushing along 
like a mane of foam, beautifully sounding and advancing ') ; 
the beach where Carlyle and his friend Edward Irving 
had so often walked and communed together. Many 
a summer's day too he spent in the beautiful dell of Kenno- 
way, near his grandmother's home. At other times he 
made excursions to Ravenscraig Castle and to Seafield, 
sketching the ruins of the old towers ; to the quaint little 
town of Kinghorn on the road to Burntisland ; to the ancient 
castle of Fordel, with its stately beeches and gardens, its 
turrets and tapestries ; to Dysart, and to the caves of 

Occasionally too business or pleasure would take him to 
the old town of Dunfermline, where he probably may have 
seen a much smaller boy named Andrew Carnegie, who was 
destined to make a name for himself in the world. A familiar 
sight was the island of Inchkeith, in the middle of the Forth, 
pretty much the same then as when Carlyle and Irving 
visited it in Robie Greg's ' poor green-painted, rickety 
yawl ' ; the same wonderful views across the water, ' Edin- 
burgh with its towers, the great silver mirror of the Frith, 
girt by such a framework of mountains, cities, rocks and 
fields and wavy landscape, on all hands ' — a precious 
memory to hold for other days. 

But of all the scenes about Kirkcaldy, once familiar to 
Sandford Fleming, nothing exceeds in loveliness the parks 
and gardens. The gardens of Dysart stretching from 
Ravenscraig along the banks of the Forth and overlooking 
the beautiful southern shore from the Bass Rock to Salis- 
bury Craigs and Arthur's Seat are the pride of the people 

Sandford Fleming in 1845 


of the ' Lang Toun \ Even more richly endowed with 
sweetness and quiet beauty is the Raith, immediately 
adjoining Kirkcaldy. There is only one Raith, and to those 
who have known it the wide world may be searched in vain 
for its equal. Every son and daughter of Kirkcaldy carries 
through life the memory of its charm, with its beautiful lake 
and waterfalls, its heather lodges, its gently swelling uplands, 
its magnificent trees of every variety, all combining to give 
to the Raith an air of perfect sylvan beauty. 

An entry in the diary under date of January 13, 1845, 
must be given in full, for the sake of the spirited description 
it contains of a little-known Scottish festival : ' Auld Hansel 
Monday. Went down with others to Duravale to see Miss 
Simson's picture of the Slave Market at Constantinople, and 
then returned to Haugh Mill. Next morning I entered the 
kitchen at six o'clock. Here is the master at the fire heating 
the meal, and the mistress at the boiler stirring and boiling 
the head of a fat ox. On a long row of tables are placed 
wooden cogs now filled with oatmeal, into which is poured 
the water in which the head was boiled. The plowmen with 
their wives and children come in, upwards of forty of them, 
with a noise of endless " Fine days ", and " Merrie Hansel 
Mondays to ye ", with the shaking of hands, &c. Now they 
are all seated on forms, benches and planks of wood. Silence 
reigns after the blessing is asked, except for the noise of the 
horn spoons and the sloustering and snoring of the company. 
What a scene of happiness, scarcely to be imitated by the 
pencil of Wilkie ! But this is not all. The beef is now 
commenced upon, and crowned by the introduction of 
Bacchus. The master begins, "Here's a' yer healths an' 
mony a Hansel Monday may we see ". The bottle passes 
round the table, and the feast is never closed until the whole 
may well say they are fou' and as thankfu'. The plowmen 
now set out to visit their friends, and the farmer's sons and 
relations get the guns ready for the field sports. They 
commence at a favourite field ; those that have guns take 
their station at regular intervals, the boys and others without 
guns filling in between. So they scour the fields one after 


another till two or three o'clock, when they return laden 
with the products of the chase, chiefly hares, to a hearty 
dinner, intermixed with whisky toddy, and a general talk 
of the adventures of the day. Tea and more toddy follow 
later, with songs, Scottish proverbs, cards, dice, recitations 
and divers games. The amusements are carried on to 
a pretty late hour, when once more Hansel Monday ends.' 

In this month of January 1845 the thoughts of the young 
man are constantly turned towards Canada. January 7 he 
notes in his diary : ' This is my birthday, and I am now 
eighteen years of age. Went up with my father to Balbirnie 
to see Mr. Ellice (Edward Ellice, M.P.) about going to Canada/ 
A few days later he writes : ' Got a pocket sextant, a present 
from Mr. Sang, on the thoughts of going to America.' By 
dint of hard work he had now qualified himself to practise 
his profession as a civil engineer and surveyor, and had 
acquired not a little facility as a draughtsman. The prospects 
of employment in the old land were bright enough, especially 
as the railway system was at that time being inaugurated 
throughout the United Kingdom, but, like many another 
youngster, the spirit of adventure had got hold of him, and 
after careful thought it was decided that he should try his 
fortune in the new world. His brother David had also 
determined to emigrate to Canada. On the 20th of April the 
diary reads : ' Went to church twice, expecting it to be the 
last time in Scotland ' ; and the following day the young 
man writes : ' David and I up about Kennoway taking fare- 
well of our friends. My grandmother was a little affected, 
and with tears in her eyes she said, " In danger I'll no' can 
help ye ony way, but I'll pray for ye." Robert and Sandford 
Imrie, our cousins, came along to a cross-road near the 
Milton, and when parting dropped a letter into our hand, 
saying " Just to put in our pocket : it might be of use to us 
afterward ". It was addressed to S. & D. Fleming, enclosing 
two pound and two crown pieces. It certainly showed an 
uncommonly kind and feeling heart, and is ranked among 
the incidents of my life which I will never forget. On 
coming home, our Kirkcaldy friends were at supper, and the 


workmen were drinking David's health with some money 
which he gave. Rodger Black gave us each a present, to 
David Gems from American Poets, and to me Gems from 
British Poets, and I got from my Uncle Alec a pocket 
compass which also answers as a sun-dial/ 

On the morning of April 22, they were up at six making 
their final preparations. ' After taking farewell of our friends, 
our mother, brothers and sisters, David and I, accompanied 
by our father to Glasgow, left Kirkcaldy perhaps for ever. 
We crossed the Firth to Edinburgh, and left by the five 
o'clock train for Glasgow.' The following day was spent in 
Glasgow, making final preparations for the long voyage by 
sailing ship to Quebec. In the year 1845 a voyage across 
the Atlantic was not such a simple matter as it is to-day. 
Sandford Fleming, who was to do so much to increase the 
means of communication, had to be satisfied with the 
leisurely speed of an old-fashioned sailing ship. We of this 
generation, who have become so accustomed to the marvels 
of luxury plying almost daily between the opposite shores of 
the ocean, can hardly realize that the whole story of ocean 
navigation by steam lies within the bounds of one man's 
lifetime. When Fleming crossed the Atlantic in 1845 the 
dawn of the era of ocean steamships had barely opened. 
The Cunard Line had only recently been formed. It was 
then known as the British and North American Royal Mail 
Steam Packet Company, and consisted of four side-wheel 
steamers, mere pygmies beside the great Cunarders of to-day. 
It is worth remembering that as this first line of ocean 
steamers was organized by Sir Samuel Cunard, a Canadian, 
so the very first vessel to cross the Atlantic by steam power 
was built in Canada, her hull in Quebec, her engines in 
Montreal, fed with Canadian coal, and navigated by a 
Canadian crew. The Royal William, for so she was named, 
sailed from Quebec as long ago as 1833, and made a successful 
though not very rapid voyage by steam to London. After 
leaving Quebec, she coaled at Pictou, and steamed trium- 
phantly into the Thames twenty-five days later. 

Seventy years ago, however, adventurous young men, 


determined to carve a fortune in the new world, were con- 
tent to find their way by such old-fashioned sailing ships as 
those engaged in the timber trade. In such a ship passage 
had been engaged by the young travellers. The original 
passenger's ticket used on the occasion is still extant, and is 
not without interest as a relic of days when the sailing 
ship was still the usual means of conveyance across the 
Atlantic. It reads : ' I engage that the parties herein 
named shall be provided with a passage to Quebec, in the 
ship Brilliant, with not less than ten cubic feet for luggage, 
for each statute adult, for the sum of £13 10s. including head- 
money, if any, at the place of landing, and every other 
charge . . . Water and provisions, according to the annexed 
scale, will be supplied by the Ship, as required by law, and 
also fires and suitable hearths for cooking. Utensils for 
eating and drinking will be provided by passengers. Bedding 
will be provided by passengers.' It is noted that the fare 
includes free passage from Quebec to Montreal by river 
steamer. Then follows the scale of water and provisions : 
' A supply of water daily, at the rate of three quarts for each 
passenger, and at convenient times, not less than two times 
a week ; a supply of provisions after the rate of seven pounds 
of Bread, Biscuit, Flour, Oatmeal, or Rice per week. One- 
half at least of the supply shall consist of Bread or Biscuit, 
and that Potatoes may be employed (at Master's option) to 
the extent of the remaining half of the supply, five pounds 
of the potatoes being computed as equal to one pound of the 
other articles above enumerated.' 

To return to the diary : ' The Brilliant cleared out from 
the Broomielaw about half-past one p.m. (April 24, 1845.) It 
was tugged down the river by a steamer, and we took fare- 
well of my father, who followed to the end of the wharf and 
gave us three cheers.' 

It was a fine spring day, the sun high in the heavens, and 
the two young exiles, though their hearts were full, could 
enjoy the ever-changing scenery as they glided down the 
Clyde. The towers and spires of Glasgow gradually dis- 
appeared in the distance ; presently the travellers passed 































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Dumbarton Castle ; their vessel, piloted through such a mass 
of shipping as rilled them with amazement, dropped down to 
Greenock, where a new pilot was taken on for the Firth of 
Clyde. ' Night comes on before we reach the Irish Sea, and 
we go to sleep for the first time on the deep. The steamer 
leaves us during the night/ 

The following morning they are up at five, and on the deck 
examining with keen interest all the details of their floating 
home. The only land in sight is Ailsa Craig, due south, just 
visible in the mist. Some hours later they get a glimpse of 
the Mull of Kintyre to the north, and soon the last of Scotland 
drops below the horizon. In the afternoon the wind freshens, 
all loose articles slide about the cabin, the trunks are made 
fast in the hold, and the women passengers retire to their 
berths. The entry in the diary under Saturday, April 26, is 
brief but eloquent, ' Very sick. In bed most part of the day, 
and eat very little.' Sunday, still very sick in the forenoon, 
but the wind moderates and the young travellers find life 
again worth living. ' In the evening we had a pleasant sail 
with the vessel rocking majestically, although before we 
really thought it was going down.' During the night a jar 
of treacle broke loose in the cabin, and the sticky contents 
was spread about the floor. 

A day or two of fine weather brought most of the passengers 
on deck, but the respite was only brief. A stiff westerly wind 
sent them below again. 

The last days of April found the ship again in the grip of 
the storm. ' Slept little or none all night,' reads the diary, 
' and we thought sometimes we were like to be pitched out 
of our berths. It was my turn to see about breakfast. Up 
early therefore. Could not walk very well along the deck. 
Got nothing, as there was trouble with the cook. One of the 
sailors came to the rescue. Got back to the cabin wet. We 
were all sitting on the trunks when the vessel took a great 
heave, the fastenings were loosened, and the trunks all slid 
to the opposite side of the cabin, some on their sides and 
others topsy-turvy. Back they came with the ship, and to 
and from, some of us betwixt them and others on top. David 


had been sitting on a box containing drinkables. In a short 
time the contents were spilt over everything and the floor 
swimming. Much laughter followed. The trunks and other 
things were secured with difficulty, and while we were at 
work, in comes a fellow passenger saying the trunks in the 
hold had broken loose. We all go down and get them secured. 
The cracking and creaking there are fearful. We get back 
to the cabin and go to bed.' 

The good ship Brilliant had run into a north-west gale, 
which steadily increased in violence and lasted several days. 
She had to change her course and run southerly under double- 
reefed topsails. Great waves swept across the deck. A wild 
night followed, the ship creaking and groaning ; ' it seemed 
as if the sea was closing over us. We slept none all night. 
Next day, the wind fell and our condition altered, though it 
seemed for the worse, as the heavy swelling seas caused by 
the gale still remained, and the sails could no longer steady 
the vessel. There being no wind the canvas simply flapped. 
The ship rolled fearfully, and the cargo in the hold shifted 
from side to side. The cargo was partly iron bars, and we 
could hear them rolling from side to side with the ship, and 
pounding first on one side and again on the other. It did not 
seem possible that the ship could withstand such pounding 
much longer, and not knowing what might happen to us I felt 
that I would like to send some word to my father, so I got 
out my writing-desk which he gave me before I left home, 
and wrote a letter explaining our situation and what seemed 
to be our prospects. I sealed the letter in a bottle and threw 
it into the sea, thinking it might be the last letter I should 
write, and that it might perhaps reach my father. We were 
then far out at sea, possibly seven hundred miles from land, 
and had drifted four or five hundred miles southerly out of 
our course, from about the latitude of Glasgow to that of 
Paris. Towards evening the heavy sea fell, and next morning 
everything had changed for the better. When we got on deck 
the good ship, with her canvas spread to a favouring breeze, 
was sailing tranquilly toward the west.' 

For some time the voyage was made up of a monotonous 


though no doubt most welcome series of fine days with clear 
skies, comparatively smooth water and plain sailing. The 
diary is a record of the trifling incidents that make up such 
a voyage : a schooner is seen homeward bound ; a brig is 
sighted on the northern horizon ; another sail is within 
speaking distance for half a day. The brothers play chess 
during the day, and join the other cabin passengers with 
singing and dancing in the evening. May 11 they are be- 
calmed, and the boys amuse themselves watching the antics 
of a shoal of porpoises, and fishing for sea- weed which from 
its appearance must have floated north from the Gulf of 
Mexico ; two or three whales are seen blowing just above 
the horizon, and another appears a few hundred yards from 
the ship ; nautili float past, * looking queerly like large 
mice '. 

On the 13th of May they are half-way between land and 
land, to the delight of the passengers. The following day 
brought nasty weather again, the ship laboured hard, the 
trunks again slid about the cabin and ' even the pillows had 
to be tied to the bed ', a quantity of pig-iron broke loose in 
the hold, adding to the general confusion and filling the 
passengers with alarm. On the 18th they passed several 
large icebergs, and the following day were reported to have 
reached the Great Banks. ' A great many fishing schooners 
were seen, with small boats floating about ; towards evening 
it gets foggy, and while sitting in the cabin we hear a great 
crying on deck : a large schooner lies at anchor, right ahead, 
not having been seen in the fog until we were a couple of 
ship's-lengths off ; we would have struck her amidships if 
our course had not been immediately altered. That night 
we sailed with two lookouts and had bells ringing continually. 
Some of the passengers took precautions against the ship's 
sinking during the night, such as sleeping with their clothes 
on, pocketing their money, and having a bag of biscuits handy 
to throw into the small boats.' 

' May 22. It is now four weeks to-day since we left 
Glasgow. We began to wash a few handkerchiefs, and I had 
just gone on deck to put them out to dry, when greatly 



surprised I was to see hills on the horizon ; they had been 
hid before by the mist. Every one crowded on deck, some 
nearly dancing for joy. I made a sketch. It was the south 
coast of Newfoundland — the first I have seen of the new 
world, the first glimpse of our adopted country/ 

Three days later they were called up to see St. Paul's Island 
in the early morning, and during the forenoon passed Bird 
Rocks. The following morning they sighted Gaspe shore 
and Anticosti. May 30, a pilot was taken on board, and 
June 3 they came to anchor at Grosse Isle. ' The captain 
went ashore with two cabin, two intermediate, and two 
steerage passengers. I had not the good luck to get off, which 
was rather disappointing as I wished to take sketches of the 
place. They brought us bread baked on the island and 
bunches of flowers, and among them I was glad to see the 
dandelion, as it reminded me of the land we had left behind. 
The numerous rocky islands covered with trees are most 
beautiful with high hills in the background/ 

Two days later they had reached their destination. ' Called 
up on deck to see Quebec about 5 a.m. Just then opposite 
a waterfall (Montmorency). The river at Quebec was im- 
mensely crowded with vessels, and pilot boats were flying 
about in every direction. The tin roofs of the houses and the 
spires of the churches were shining in the rays of the sun. 
We packed our travelling things in the hope of getting away 
with the five o'clock steamer to Montreal. Some of us went 
ashore in a boat in the forenoon to see the town. Everything 
seemed strange, the steamers especially. Some were driven 
by horses, walking on deck, but the Montreal steamships were 
splendid. Very happy to get our feet on terra firma once 
more. We set off to see the ruins of a great fire which had 
taken place a day or two before our arrival. It had an awful 
appearance ; more than twenty acres of houses burned to 
the ground ; nothing left but a forest of blackened chimneys, 
the houses having been built chiefly of wood. The pavements 
of the streets being also of wood were destroyed with the 
houses. The homeless inhabitants are living in churches and 
other large buildings, and subscriptions are being raised in 


every quarter for their relief. 1 The people here are almost 
all French, and have, of course, a very foreign appearance 
to us. After looking about for some time we returned on 
board to be in time for the Montreal steamer, but found we 
could not get away until the next day, as the custom-house 
officer had not yet come on board.' 

The next forenoon, having still some time on their hands, 
the brothers again went ashore and wandered through the 
old town. ' We saw the inside of a Roman Catholic chapel ; 
it was indeed richly adorned and elaborately finished. We 
visited the spot where General Wolfe fell, and saw where the 
battle with General Montcalm was fought. Returning to 
the Brilliant, we got our baggage removed to the steamer for 
Montreal. The custom-house officer was most reasonable, 
and only required that one trunk should be opened. We left 
our old ship and her crew with regret, having during the 
voyage, which lasted from the 22nd of April to the 6th of June, 
in all forty-four days, made a pleasant society on board. We 
said good-bye to the officers, with whom we had cultivated 
agreeable relations, especially in connexion with the observa- 
tions and calculations necessary to be made from day to day 
in the navigation of the ship.' 

A word or two may be added as to the fate of the letter 
thrown overboard in mid- Atlantic. Nearly seven months 
after it was consigned to the waves, the father, after hearing 
of his son's safe arrival in Canada, received the following 
message from Appledore, Port of Bideford, Devonshire : ' A 
bottle has been drifted on shore this day and been picked up 
by a poor fisherman. It contains a letter addressed to you. 
It bears date, Atlantic Ocean, May ulto., and excites great 
curiosity, having drifted about six hundred and thirty miles. 
This letter maybe of consequence, and it shall be preserved 
for the owner.' 

This ends the story, briefly told, of the voyage from the 
Clyde to Quebec by sailing ship in 1845. So the boy Sandford 
Fleming, after a passage of some six weeks, made his entry 
into the new world. 

1 This was the great fire of May 28, 1845, which destroyed 1,600 houses 
and other buildings. 




Nearly a quarter of a century before the Royal William 
crossed the Atlantic, the first Canadian steamboat navigated 
the waters of the St. Lawrence. Built at Montreal in 1809, 
two years after Fulton had astonished the people of New York 
by steaming up the Hudson in the Clermont, the Accommoda- 
tion was launched by John Molson and started on her maiden 
trip to Quebec. The run was made in thirty-six hours, and 
the venture proved so successful that Molson obtained a 
monopoly for fifteen years, and in 1811 built a second steam- 
boat, the Swiftsure. These pioneer vessels, which were the 
pride of Montreal a hundred years ago, would appear ludi- 
crously small and clumsy if one of them could be put beside 
a palatial river steamer of the present day ; and even in 
1845 rapid advances had been made in the size and equipment 
of the boats plying between Montreal and Quebec. 

Certainly to Sandford Fleming and his elder brother David, 
after their long voyage on the sailing ship Brilliant, the steam- 
boat Queen seemed a magnificent vessel of phenomenal speed. 
The boys found room on the crowded deck, and watched as 
long as daylight lasted the ever-changing panorama of the 
St. Lawrence. For several miles above Quebec the river was 
filled with sailing vessels taking on cargoes of lumber for the 
European market. Then the city was left behind, and the 
boat steamed past cultivated fields with here and there the 
comfortable home of an habitant. Presently a hamlet would 
appear on the river's bank, the neat white cottages of the 
villagers clustering around the village church, for all the world 
like a brood of chickens about the mother hen. Presently 
the cultivated field would give place for a time to a bit of 
comparatively wild, rocky scenery, with sombre forest in 
the background. Finally, darkness closed down over the 
scene, and the two young emigrants made themselves as 


comfortable as they could on deck, that being the only 
accommodation they could secure. 

The following morning, June 7, they awoke a little stiff, 
but the discomforts of the night were soon forgotten in the 
glorious scene that lay before them. It was a beautiful clear 
morning, a typical Canadian midsummer morning ; the 
river was as smooth as glass, untouched even by a ripple, 
and the Queen was sailing through that most beautiful part 
of the St. Lawrence between Three Rivers and Montreal. 
The travellers landed at Montreal about eight o'clock in the 

In the Montreal of 1845 there was much to remind Fleming 
of the old French town of Quebec, but there was much also 
that marked it as a town with different conditions and a 
different future. The old narrow streets, relics of the French 
regime, still remained along the water-front, with many 
curious old buildings that have since disappeared, but the 
city was already expanding back towards St. Catherine Street 
and Sherbrooke, and on the water-front a substantial begin- 
ning had been made with the splendid system of docks which 
now accommodates the commerce of half a continent. 

It is difficult to realize the tremendous changes that have 
taken place in Montreal and in the country of which it is 
still the centre, since 1845. Montreal was then a city of 
about sixty thousand, one-tenth of its present population ; 
the gigantic railway systems of the country were then repre- 
sented by one little strip of track from Laprairie to St. John's, 
connecting Montreal with the Champlain Valley, and even 
this railway was shut down in winter ; merely a beginning 
had been made with the St. Lawrence canals, upon which 
over one hundred millions have since been expended ; the 
Cornwall Canal had been completed three years before, but 
the Williamsburg canals were only then in course of con- 
struction, and the enlarged Lachine Canal was not completed 
until 1848. The Allan Line and the great project of the 
Victoria Bridge were still in the womb of the future, and the 
men who had visions of Montreal as a great ocean port were 
not to see even a partial realization of their dream for some 


years to come. The removal of the seat of government to 
Montreal had given an impetus to this as to many other 
projects affecting the welfare of the city and the country, but 
Montreal in the middle 'forties was only on the threshold of 
her era of expansion. She still retained, as a well-known 
writer, Dr. S. E. Dawson, has said, much of her mediaeval 
aspect. Few vestiges are now left of the old town, but many 
existed in 1845. ' A visit to St. Vincent Street and to St. 
Amabe Lane will give an idea of the narrow streets and 
sombre appearance that then characterized our present 
bright city. The streets were crowded, for it did not require 
much trade to crowd them, and the merchants lived over 
their warehouses, and their clerks oft-times lived with them. 
The few residences above St. Catherine Street were like 
manor houses among the fields which stretched down to 
Dorchester Street. The old town was solidly packed, and 
it was only on the new streets like St. James, Craig, and 
McGill that there were many gaps. If the city seemed sombre, 
the people were gay and sociable. There was, besides the 
western trade, an important retail trade, and the city was 
enlivened then, and for many years after, by a large garrison 
of English troops, whose presence kept the town in touch 
with English thought and manners and fashions. Their 
bugle-calls for the "assembly" and other routine duties of 
a soldier's life are now replaced by steam whistles which 
summon or dismiss an army of thronging work-people. The 
relations between the garrison and the city were always 
friendly, and the parade at n a.m., or the trooping of the 
colours, attracted many citizens to the Champ de Mars, then 
the centre of the town, while the brilliant uniforms of the 
officers enlivened the ball-rooms of the evening parties.' 
It was such a town as this, through whose narrow old-world 
streets the young travellers wandered in 1845. 

While the two brothers were still looking about them, 
eagerly interested in the many novel features of life in the 
new world, and a little uncertain as to what they had better 
do next, they had the pleasure of a visit from their old school- 
master, Mr. Bethune, of Kennoway, who came down to the 


steamer with his wife. He had come out to Montreal from 
Scotland some time before, and was now about to start for 
the west, having undertaken the work of a missionary settler 
in the township of Walpole, on the north shore of Lake Erie. 
The prospect of congenial company induced the boys to 
hasten their departure from Montreal ; they all took passage 
on a river steamer and made their way up the Ottawa River. 
At that time the only route to Upper Canada lay by way of 
the Ottawa River to Bytown, through the Rideau Lakes to 
Kingston, and thence along Lake Ontario. 

The improvement of navigation was then in its infancy. 
Such canals as there were, were only adapted to small shallow- 
draught vessels, and the approaches had not been dredged. 
As a consequence the little boat in which they were travelling, 
being deeply laden, stuck in the mud a little below Lachine 
and lay all night. It rained very heavily, and, there being no 
cabin, the passengers were again compelled to sleep on deck 
under oil-cloths. The next day the vessel was taken up to 
the locks, but as it was contrary to the law to go through 
on Sunday, the boys took advantage of the opportunity to 
attend the Scotch church in Lachine. 

Necessary repairs to the steamer detained them at St. 
Anne's until Tuesday afternoon, when they were off again 
through the Lake of Two Mountains and into the wild scenery 
of the Ottawa. Here the author of the diary was introduced 
to the North American mosquito, and, like most travellers 
on this continent, was sufficiently interested in its personality 
to record his impressions in his' diary : ' Saw mosquitoes for 
the first time. Got several bites on my hand. They are 
very itchy, but if you do not scratch them they soon go away. 
If you do ', he adds feelingly, ' they swell very much. Some 
people they do not sting, or at least they do not feel them.' 
The steamer made occasional stops at infant settlements on 
the river, and the lads enjoyed the luxury of sweet milk, but 
they note that it is about twice as dear as in Scotland. On 
the evening of the nth they reached the village of Carillon 
at the foot of the Long Sault Rapids. At Grenville they were 
again delayed by difficulty in getting the steamer through 


the locks. This was her first trip, and she had been built 
without due regard to the width of the locks. As a conse- 
quence it became necessary to unship the paddle-boxes before 
she could be passed through. After another night spent 
on the river, the travellers reached Bytown at six a.m. on 
June 14. 

Let us attempt to see the little settlement of Bytown as it 
appeared in 1 845 . As the steamer ploughed her way through 
the dark waters of the Ottawa, the banks of the river below 
the town gave little indication of the presence of man. The 
low northern shore and the higher ground on the south side, 
rising to imposing cliffs, on which the city now stands, were 
still for the most part clothed in the same primaeval forest 
that Champlain had seen first of white men two hundred 
and thirty-two years before. Parkman's inimitable word- 
picture was as applicable to the river in 1845 as it was to 
the scene that met the astonished gaze of Champlain in 1613. 
' The still surface of the river was flecked with spots of foam ; 
islets of froth floated by, tokens of some great convulsion. 
Then, on their left, the falling curtain of the Rideau shone 
like silver betwixt its bordering woods, and in front, white as 
a snowdrift, the cataracts of the Chaudiere barred their way. 
They saw the unbridled river careering down its sheeted 
rocks, foaming in unfathomed chasms, wearying the solitude 
with the hoarse outcry of its agony and rage.' Except that 
in 1845 a rustic mill stood above the Rideau Falls, and a grace- 
ful suspension bridge spanned the Chaudiere, Parkman's 
description was as applicable as ever. As the boat rounded 
Nepean Point, however, and drew into the wharf, an entirely 
different scene opened up before the travellers. Before them 
rose the massive tier of locks leading to the Rideau Canal, 
spanned above by the Sapper's Bridge. On the heights to 
the right, now crowned by the splendid Gothic group of the 
Houses of Parliament, stood the barracks and stone hospital 
built by Colonel By, and a few scattered public buildings and 
private dwellings could be seen among the trees on either 
side of the canal. 

While the boat made her leisurely way through the locks, 


the writer of the diary explored the little town, which many 
years afterwards was to become his home. Climbing the 
hill to Rideau Street, he crossed the Sapper's Bridge, and 
wandered down the road which skirted Barracks' Hill, and 
eventually brought him to the bridge over the Chaudiere 
Falls. His brother took another course towards New Edin- 
burgh, and looked up an old workman of their father's who 
had come out to Bytown eleven years before and was now 
in comfortable circumstances. He was not in at the time, 
and they had to get back to the boat which all this time had 
been making her leisurely way through the locks and was now 
discharging cargo at the canal basin. Before she left, how- 
ever, the old man was seen coming along the banks of the 
canal, dressed in honour of the occasion in his Sunday clothes, 
a dress coat with brass buttons and a white cravat. They 
told him all the news of Kirkcaldy and Kennoway, and in 
return learned from him a great deal about life in Canada. 
' As we walked back with him to the bridge,' says the diary, 
' I happened to be a few feet behind, and to my astonishment 
saw smoke coming from the tails of his coat. I rushed for- 
ward with a shout of warning. The old man turned quickly, 
caught sight of the trail of smoke he was leaving behind, and 
snatched out of his pocket a huge bandanna handkerchief 
and a venerable pipe. He had been smoking, it appeared, on 
his way down to the canal, and when he caught sight of us on 
the boat had hastily thrust the pipe into his pocket without 
remembering to empty it. The bandanna handkerchief 
made material for a tidy little bonfire, which was just dis- 
covered in time to save the tails of his Sunday coat.' 

The long and rather tedious journey through the canal and 
the Rideau Lakes to Kingston was made without incident, 
beyond meeting another old Kirkcaldy man who had come 
out from Scotland thirty years before and was now lockmaster 
at Smith's Falls. * Kingston ', says the diary, * is a pretty 
considerable town, wide streets and well laid out. There are 
some good public buildings, more especially the market-house, 
which is a large and fine building in the form of a T with 
colonnade and pillars in front supporting a dome and clock- 


tower. There are some good churches, one a new Gothic 
structure, and a large plain college.' This was Fleming's 
first glimpse of Queen's College, of which he was many years 
later to become Chancellor. 

The same evening they took passage on the Princess Royal, 
bound for Toronto, accompanied by several of their acquain- 
tance from the Brilliant, who had come on ahead to Kingston. 
The Princess Royal was crowded with emigrants, chiefly 
Irish, an advance guard of the great exodus of 1847. At 
Cobourg they took leave of their friends, who were going on 
to Toronto, and turned north to their destination, Peterboro. 
'Cobourg ', says the diary, ' is a nice little town, and apparently 
thriving very well.' The lads were struck with the curious 
resemblance that this town, some seven hundred or eight 
hundred miles inland, bore to a seaport, and the novel 
experience of a limitless horizon on these inland waters. 

A Peterboro farmer returning from Cobourg furnished 
a convenient means of transport. The luggage was tumbled 
into his wagon, and off they started. The first few miles 
were over a rough road, nothing much more than a track 
through the bush. Then they struck the corduroy road 
from Port Hope to Rice Lake. The elder, ambitious to 
drive the wagon over this pioneer highway, so different 
from the carefully-built roads of the old land, managed to 
get into a deep rut and was pitched headlong into the ditch. 
This experience satisfied him for the time, and he was glad 
to hand the reins over to the farmer, more accustomed to 
the eccentricities of Upper Canadian roads. They arrived 
at Peterboro about sun-down, where they had a warm wel- 
come from their kinsman, Dr. Hutcheson, one of the pioneer 
settlers of the county of Peterboro. The journey from 
Quebec to Peterboro, which can now be made in ten hours, 
took them over eleven days ! 

Peterboro did not impress Fleming very favourably when 
he got his first sight of the town. ' It looks rather a poor 
little place, the stumps of trees still in the middle of the 
streets, a wooden house here and there, with a few good 
villas with verandahs in the suburbs.' But he was to make 


his home here for several years, and many associations were 
to make the place dear to him. Indeed, a good night's rest 
and a bright sun the following morning had already made 
Peterboro more interesting and attractive. * Went out with 
the doctor to see the town,' he says. ' There are some good 
shops, and a large court-house and cells which we went 
through. There were one debtor, a man and wife con- 
demned for burning a house, and a lunatic here, this being 
the prison for the whole district of Colbourne. The place 
looks very well down about the river, which is more than half 
the size of the Clyde at Glasgow. A small steamer plies 
between Peterboro and Rice Lake. Part of this town is on 
the other side of the river, which is crossed by a wooden 
bridge. It contains about two thousand inhabitants.' 

The following day Sandford and David drove out to Mud 
Lake with Dr. Hutcheson, calling at different farm-houses 
where the doctor had patients. For several miles from 
Peterboro the land was cleared and good farms under culti- 
vation ; the houses were only log shacks, but the farmers 
appeared to be prosperous. A visit was paid to an Indian 
village at Mud Lake, and the young Scotch lads were for the 
first time brought face to face with a live Indian chief in the 
person of Peter Noggy. 

About two months were spent very pleasantly in the 
little town on the banks of the Ottonabee ; not idle days by 
any means. The lads had been brought up in a community 
that abhorred idleness, and there were innumerable oppor- 
tunities of usefulness about the home of the good doctor. 
Still they found time for fishing excursions, picnics, and 
rambles about the country, in which they discovered many 
familiar acquaintances among the birds and flowers of the 
Canadian woods, and many too which were altogether un- 

Congenial friends were also found among the families of 
Peterboro, including members of the talented Strickland 
family, Catherine Parr Traill, her sister, Susanna Moody, and 
their brother, Major Strickland. Here, by the picturesque 
waters of the Ottonabee and in the neighbouring woods, 


Mrs. Traill gathered and put into shape the material for her 
delightful books, some reflecting the now vanished conditions 
of the pioneer settlements, and the lives of the true-hearted 
men and women, branches many of them of the best old 
English stock, who laid the foundations of the great pro- 
vince of Ontario ; and others interpreting with rare insight 
and sympathy the life histories of the inhabitants of these 
Canadian woods and streams. Here too about this time 
Sandford first met a charming young girl, the daughter of 
Sheriff Hall, who some ten years afterwards was to become 
his wife. 

Early in August the two lads left for Toronto, to seek 
their fortune. They drove to Port Hope, where they took 
the steamer for Toronto. Port Hope in 1845 was ' a nice 
thriving little town, finely situated between two hills, well 
covered with trees, and among the trees many beautiful little 
cottages. A considerable stream runs through the town, 
with good falls for the mills situated there. This place may 
be said to be like a Scotch town, but the houses being 
painted white, and some of them tastefully built, it looks even 
much better ', which was praise indeed for a young man 
fresh from Scotland. 

They left Port Hope at seven a.m., and after calling at 
several intermediate ports reached Toronto at one o'clock in 
the afternoon. Toronto was then a town of less than twenty 
thousand people, with several enormously long and very 
ill-paved streets. A number of important public buildings 
had lately been completed or were in course of erection, 
including several fine churches. The old Market House was 
still standing, and over it were the rooms of the Athenaeum, 
afterwards amalgamated with the Canadian Institute. The 
officials of King's College, now the University of Toronto, 
occupied part of the old Parliament Buildings. The city 
was lighted with gas, and water-works had already been 
established from the bay to the city. Steamboats connected 
Toronto with Kingston, Hamilton, Niagara, Queenston, and 
Rochester ; stages carried passengers east and west over 
exceedingly rough road ; omnibuses ran regularly out Yonge 


Street, which extended forty miles north into the country, 
passing through Richmond Hill, Thornhill, and other villages ; 
and every hour from the market-place to Yorkville ; a horse 
ferry-boat also connected the city with the island. 

In 1845 the Kingston steamer landed at Brown's Wharf, 
near the foot of Church Street. To any one familiar with 
Toronto the changes that have taken place within the life- 
time of Fleming are indeed marvellous. Practically the city 
was confined in 1845 to the area between Peter Street on the 
west and Parliament Street on the east. Queen Street was 
not open west of Sherbourne, where it was shut in by the 
Moss Park grounds of the Hon. William Allan, father of the 
late Senator Allan. The whole space between Queen and 
Bloor Streets, now a mile and a quarter of almost solid 
buildings, was then mostly in farms with a few straggling 
buildings up Yonge Street for perhaps half a mile north of 
Queen Street. One incident may serve to give an idea of the 
enormous strides taken by Toronto since Fleming first set foot 
on its streets nearly seventy years ago, an incident the parti- 
culars of which were related to him by one of the parties to 
the transaction. Andrew Sanderson, a farmer in the township 
of York, took a load of hay one autumn to Toronto to sell 
in the open market. Finding no sale, and unwilling to take 
the load back with him over very heavy roads, he offered it 
to the proprietor of Elgin's Hotel on Yonge Street on very 
easy terms. The latter, however, could ill spare the cash, and 
after some bargaining he offered Sanderson in payment for 
the load of hay the vacant lot on the north-east corner of 
King and Yonge Streets, which Sanderson reluctantly 
accepted. That particular lot was sold not long ago for 
a million and a quarter dollars. 

After a night in the ' Edinburgh Castle ' tavern, a comfort- 
able room was obtained at a boarding-house on East Queen 
Street, directly opposite what is now Jarvis Street, which did 
not then exist. David was fortunate in obtaining work 
immediately, but Sandford was not so successful. Day after 
day his journal is a record of hope deferred. He called on 
Sir Allan MacNab and other notabilities with letters of 



introduction, but, though politely received, he found little 
or no prospect of employment as an engineer or surveyor. 
The Canada Company's surveys were completed, and there 
was nothing to hope for in that direction ; Mr. (afterwards 
Sir) Casimer Gzowski could offer no work in the Department 
of Roads and Harbours, in fact he threw cold water over the 
ambitious hopes of the young engineer ; told him there was 
nothing in the province ; that the great works were nearly 
all finished, funds exhausted, that they were paying off men 
instead of taking them on, that indeed he thought it a very 
bad country for professional men, and wound up by advising 
him to return to Scotland, advice which Sandford decided 
to put aside until every avenue of success in the new world 
had been explored. 

Finally, seeing little prospect of employment in Toronto 
for a time at least, he decided to go to Hamilton, partly to 
see what prospect there might be of work in that town, and 
partly to look up his friends of the Brilliant. Surveyors 
and engineers seemed to be as little in demand there as in 
Toronto, but he was fortunate in finding Mr. Bethune and 
several others of the Brilliant passengers, with whom he 
spent a pleasant evening. 

As Mr. Bethune was leaving the next day with his family 
to take up his farm, Sandford decided to accompany him. 
' We went along the Port Dover road/ says the diary. ' It 
is planked to that place, a distance of thirty-six miles from 
Hamilton. We passed the village of Caledonia on the Grand 
River. A steamer runs from this place to Port Maitland on 
Lake Erie. We saw a good many flour- and saw-mills. We 
rolled along this smooth road almost like a floor, halting at 
several taverns and other places until we came to Mr. Secord's 
tavern, twenty-four miles from Hamilton, and then we 
walked about two miles through the bush until we came to 
Mr. Bethune's clearing/ 

Here Fleming had his first experience of colonial life under 
absolutely pioneer conditions — the new settler with little 
other asset than his stout heart attacking the tremendous task 
of carving a home out of the wilderness. Mr. Bethune's 


farm consisted of a two-hundred-acre lot, a few acres of 
partially cleared land, the rest being bush. A primitive log 
house had been put up without so far even a chimney. That 
the young Scotch lad, however, saw nothing discouraging in 
the outlook of a pioneer farmer is clear from the fact that at 
this time he seriously contemplated buying a farm himself, 
and even went the length of examining one that happened 
to be for sale, and making inquiries as to possible terms of 
purchase. A sudden call to Hamilton on urgent business 
brought this project to an untimely end, fortunately for his 
adopted country. He might have made a successful farmer, 
but Canada would have lost perhaps her greatest engineer. 

One little incident may appropriately close this phase of 
the young man's career, and the story cannot better be told 
than in his own words. ' I was anxious ', he says, ' to find 
some way of helping my old schoolmaster, who, although he 
had no doubt found occasion to thrash me more than once, 
had endeared himself to me by many kindnesses. As his 
log house lacked a fireplace and chimney, I made up my mind 
to supply these defects. I had discovered that a quarry could 
be opened some little distance away, and with the aid of a 
pair of oxen and a sled or stone-boat, gradually managed to 
cut out and haul to the house sufficient stone for the purpose. 
Mr. Bethune's little girl, Isabella, a child of about three 
years, had become my stanch friend, and took great delight 
in driving back and forth behind the great lumbering oxen. 
Many interesting conversations we had, wee Easie and I, as 
we got out the stone and hauled it to the site of the chimney. 

1 One evening I remember her mother came to me worrying 
because the child was restless and feverish, and nothing 
would do but she must sleep in my bed. With many apologies 
Mrs. Bethune asked if she might be put there until she fell 
asleep. But when I saw her curly little head on the pillow 
I could not bear to have her disturbed, and when I turned in 
for the night the wee one cuddled down beside me contentedly, 
and so we remained until the next morning's sun summoned 
us to our pleasant labours at the quarry. 

' One day a message came from Hamilton that Dr. Hutcheson, 


my first and best friend in Canada, was seriously ill, not 
expected to live, and wished earnestly to see me. I had to 
leave at a moment's notice. Fortunately Dr. Hutcheson's 
illness proved less serious than had been anticipated, and in 
a few days he was well enough to be taken back to Peterboro. 1 
One thing and another, however, made it impossible for me 
to revisit my dear friends near Lake Erie, and it was not until 
nineteen years after, when professional business brought me 
within half a day's journey of the place, that I found the 
opportunity to revisit the scene of the pleasant days of 1845. 

1 I reached Jarvis, a village which had grown up mean- 
while not far from the old farm, and put up at the inn. After 
supper I asked the landlady if she knew of a family in the 
neighbourhood of the name of Bethune. " Oh yes," she said, 
" the old gentleman is dead, but the daughter is still living 
here. She married a Mr. Cowan, who keeps a general store 
down the road." I found the place without difficulty. The 
interior was the usual country store, filled with all sorts of 
miscellaneous articles. On one side a door, then ajar, led into 
the living-room. On entering the store I found a young man 
in charge, and asked him if Mrs. Cowan was at home. The 
words were no sooner out of my mouth than I heard a woman's 
voice from the inside room crying " There he is ! " and before 
I could take breath a handsome young woman rushed out 
and threw her arms around my neck, much to the confusion 
of myself and the young man behind the counter. . This was 
my little Isabella of nineteen years before, whose memory of 
her old companion had been vivid enough to recognize him 
after all these years merely by the tones of his voice.' 

But to return to Peterboro and the year 1845. Putting 
aside for the time all thoughts of Toronto, Fleming obtained 
temporary employment as a draughtsman with a Peterboro 
surveyor, Richard Birdsall. This occupied him until February 
1846, when he conceived the idea of making a survey of the 
town and publishing the plan. He had now entered his 

1 Dr. Hutcheson died in July 1847, from typhus contracted as a result 
of his devoted and unselfish work among the suffering Irish immigrants 
at Montreal. 


twentieth year. The survey was duly completed, and then 
the question of lithographing the plan had to be faced. At 
that time there were few, if any, lithographers in Canada ; 
certainly none in Upper Canada. Sandford had learned the 
art in Scotland, and determined to do the work himself. He 
went up to Toronto, obtained the necessary stones, and in 
due time the plan was completed. A survey and plan of the 
Newcastle District were carried out the same year ; and in 
1847 Cobourg was added to the list. 

Realizing the advantage of securing from the Government 
a commission as a provincial land surveyor, he articled him- 
self to Stoughton Dennis, of Weston, and in due time obtained 
the certificate then required by the law. Armed with this 
document he set forth for Montreal, then the seat of govern- 
ment, in the late winter of 1849. The journey was long and 
tedious. From Peterboro to Kingston the journey was made 
by stage. At Kingston the traveller caught the first boat to 
Montreal, in company with a number of legislators on their 
way to the meeting of Parliament. The monotony of the 
journey was broken, or possibly increased, by the steamer 
becoming icebound in the St. Lawrence, and remaining there 
for the better part of a day. 

At Montreal the young man presented himself for examina- 
tion to that fine old gentleman, then Commissioner of Lands, 
Andrew Russel, passed the ordeal without misadventure, and 
obtained his commission from Lord Elgin on the very day of 
the famous riot over the Rebellion Losses Bill. 

The Bill had been passed on April 25, 1849, an d, after 
anxious consideration, the Governor-General had come to 
the conclusion that he had no justifiable alternative but to 
give his assent. Returning from the legislative building, 
Lord Elgin was surrounded by an angry mob who hooted him 
and pelted his carriage with rotten eggs. In the evening the 
mob, now grown to formidable proportions, gathered in the 
Champ de Mars, where inflammatory speeches were delivered, 
and when feeling had been worked up to fever pitch, some one 
cried, ' Burn the Parliament building.' The mob immediately 
took up the cry, and rushed off to wreak vengeance on the 



empty building. Sandford Fleming had been an interested 
spectator of the wild scene on the Champ de Mars, and now 
followed the angry crowd to watch the sequel. Down the dark 
narrow streets surged the mob, their excited faces lighted 
fitfully by the torches that many of them carried. 

The legislative building was ' a two-story brick structure 
occupying the site of the old St. Anne's Market. The building 
has long since disappeared, and the ground it stood on is now 
Youville Square. It was built as a market, but was not then 
occupied as such, having been leased by the Government for 
legislative purposes. On the ground floor were the Govern- 
ment offices, while upstairs, at the head of a broad staircase, 
and leading off a wide passage, were two halls, one that of the 
Legislative Assembly, and the other that of the Legislative 

The octogenarian Montreal notary, Mr. W. F. Lighthall, 
whose recollections supply the above description of the legis- 
lative building as it was in 1849, adds the following graphic 
little picture of the opening of Parliament in this eventful 
year : * Soon it was announced that the Governor-General 
had arrived, from his official residence Monklands, on Mount 
Royal. He entered the Legislative Council and opened 
Parliament. The Speaker of the House and Black Rod 
rushed in with the mace, and we pressed in behind. Lord 
Elgin read the speech from the Throne, back of which hung 
the large oil painting of the young Queen Victoria, which 
later was rescued from the building when it was burning/ 

This latter incident brings us back to Sandford Fleming, 
who was left following the angry mob to the legislative 
building. ' When they reached the building,' he says, ' they 
tore up the planks of the sidewalk and dashed them through 
the lower windows. Lights were then applied to piles of 
parliamentary papers inside, by throwing in the torches. 
The fire spread rapidly, and I could see that before long it 
would reach the library. Having spent several delightful 
days there examining old and rare books, I felt that the least 
I could do was to try to save some of them. I gained an 
entrance, but found that the fire had already taken possession 


of the library, and it was impossible to do anything there. 
Turning to the legislative hall, I saw the Queen's picture and 
determined to make at least an effort to save it. Three 
other men joined me, but we found it no easy task. The 
portrait was in a massive gilt frame, firmly bolted to the wall. 
At last, by putting our shoulders underneath and exerting 
our united strength we managed to loosen the fastenings, 
and finally the frame came down with a crash. Finding the 
frame too heavy to handle, we removed the canvas on its 
stretching frame, and the four of us carried it out of the 
building, a shoulder under each corner. We were only just 
in time, for as we climbed slowly down the stairs the flames 
were roaring overhead and we had to stoop low to prevent 
the picture being scorched. The picture was removed to a 
place of safety, and some years after was brought to Ottawa. 
It hangs to-day in the Senate. It was the work of John 
Partridge, as appears by the following entry in the proceed- 
ings of the Legislative Assembly under date March 23, 1848 : 
* ' On motion of Sir Allan MacNab, seconded by Mr. Drummond. 
— Ordered that the Clerk of this House be directed to write 
to John Partridge, Esq., portrait painter to Her Majesty the 
Queen, requesting him to forward the likeness of Her Majesty 
painted for this House." I remember reading in a Montreal 
newspaper, a few days after the fire, a lively account of the 
incident, in which, among other things, it was said that " the 
Queen's picture was carried off by four scoundrels ". At the 
time I knew nothing of the identity of my companions 
in rascality, but many years afterwards I learned that one 
of them had been Colonel Wiley, formerly Chief of Police. 
Another was an employe of Parliament, an Eastern Town- 
ships man, whose name was, I think, McGillivray ; and the 
third was an uncle of A. H. Todd, of the Library of Parlia- 
ment. All three are now dead. It may be worth mentioning 
that a copy of the picture was made after the fire by Mr. 
Berthon, and presented by the late Senator G. W. Allan to 
the city of Toronto for the city hall. 

' After the rescue of the Queen's picture, I returned to the 
legislative chamber to see if something else might not be 



saved from the fire, but found nothing of value which one 
man could handle. I did, however, carry out the gilded 
crown which had rested on a cushion over the picture. It 
was, of course, of no particular value except as a relic of the 
old legislative building, but it was new and bright with gold- 
leaf, and attracted attention as I carried it in my arms through 
the crowd on St. Paul Street. Several times I was threatened 
with arrest, but I explained that I was simply saving the 
crown from destruction, and that any person who had 
a better right to it than I would find it in my room at 
Mack's Hotel. I afterwards took it in a tea chest to Toronto, 
where it remained in my possession for some years. What 
subsequently became of it I do not know. Possibly it 
found its way into some Toronto museum/ 

Toronto in 1S48 
From an engraving by Fleming 



Among the many important projects with which Fleming 
has been associated, none has, perhaps, given him more 
satisfaction than the founding of the Canadian Institute, 
created the Royal Canadian Institute by His Majesty in 1914. 
When he returned from Montreal in the spring of 1849, 
equipped with all the necessary documentary authority to 
practise his profession in Canada, he had already determined 
to make Toronto his head-quarters. His was not, however, 
the nature to rest satisfied with a mere bread-and-butter 
existence. His vision even then reached beyond the practical 
details of his daily work. In June of the same year he, with 
several other land surveyors, civil engineers, and architects, 
practising in and around Toronto, met together in the office 
of Kivas Tully, near the corner of King and Yonge Streets, 
to organize a society for the mutual improvement of its 
members and the advancement of their allied professions. 
This society began its existence as a professional association, 
but the men who were behind it were too broad-minded to be 
satisfied with so narrow a field, and in 1851, when a royal 
charter was obtained, the society became known as the 
Canadian Institute, in the words of the Act of Incorporation, 
1 A Society for the encouragement and general advancement 
of the Physical Sciences, the Arts and the Manufactures in 
this part of our dominions/ 

Before this stage had been reached, however, the society 
had suffered the vicissitudes of most such bodies. The 
original meeting was held on June 20, 1849, tne anniversary 
of the Queen's coronation, but in spite of this happy coinci- 
dence the society experienced anything but ' Queen's 
weather '. The preliminary meeting was adjourned from 
month to month, little being accomplished, and the waning 
interest of the members made painfully evident by the rapidly 


diminishing attendance. Finally, in February, 1850, only 
two men attended the meeting, Sandford Fleming and F. F. 
Passmore. There was in Sandford Fleming's make-up, how- 
ever, something more than enthusiasm. He was not born 
north of the Tweed without inheriting a share of the national 
tenacity. He had set his heart on organizing this society, 
and organized it should be though he had to do it single- 

After much silence and long waiting, in vain, for the other 
members to appear, Fleming addressed his colleague in these 
words, ' This looks bad. We must, however, proceed, as the 
saying is, to make a spoon or spoil the horn. Let one of us 
take the chair, and the other act as secretary.' So it was 
agreed, and dispensing in the emergency with a quorum, the 
two young men passed a series of resolutions, with complete 
unanimity. No amendments were offered, and time was 
not wasted in long discussion. Those present deemed it an 
unnecessary formality to have movers and seconders to the 
motions submitted. As appears by the original minute-book, 
the meeting simply ' Resolved ' this and that. One resolu- 
tion adopted and formally placed on the records had far- 
reaching results. It reads : ' That the members of the 
Canadian Institute do after this date meet once a week, on 
each Saturday, at 7 o'clock p.m., in the hall of the Mechanics 
Institute.' The resolutions were printed in circular form and 
sent to all interested. The Society was galvanized into life. 
The meeting held the week following was well attended, and 
the discussions on various subjects were continued for several 
hours. The weekly Saturday meeting of the Canadian 
Institute, inaugurated by these two daring young enthu- 
siasts in February 1850, has been regularly maintained for 
over sixty years ! 

The Canadian Institute, having been at last put in motion, 
was not permitted to stand still. At the meeting of Novem- 
ber 16, 1850, Sandford Fleming submitted the prospectus 
of a proposed periodical, designed to be the official organ of 
the Institute. It was to be known as The Canadian Journal, 
and was to become the medium of publication of the society's 


transactions. In the language of the prospectus, it was 
1 intended to minister to the wants and promote the interests 
of a young yet enterprising and rapidly advancing people, 
and to fill up a blank in Canadian literature, the existence of 
which has been deeply regretted, and has of late been most 
seriously felt by artisans, manufacturers, and the public 
generally throughout the province'. The prospectus was 
approved, and the first number of the Journal appeared, 
after some little delay, in 1852. A change in the title of the 
Journal, in 1856, is significant. From 1852 to 1855 it was 
known as The Canadian Journal, a Repertory of Industry, 
Science, and Art, the title being changed the following year 
to The Canadian Journal of Science, Literature, and History. 
The aims of the society, at first largely utilitarian, were 
becoming more purely intellectual and scientific, and this 
was altogether desirable. The people of Canada are even 
to-day much too deeply engrossed in practical affairs, in the 
merely bread-and-butter side of life. Literature for its own 
sake, or science for its own sake, make but a small appeal to 
their sympathies. ' Does it pay ? ' is the touchstone, rather 
than ' Is it worthy ? ' If this is so to-day it was doubly true 
in the middle of the last century, when the very circumstances 
of life in Canada, the stress and strain of pioneer conditions, 
the constant pressure of merely keeping alive, left very little 
room for interests that were not altogether practical. And 
yet it was as important then as it is now, and always will be, 
that men should be reminded that life has something higher 
and nobler than eating and drinking, clothing and shelter. 
To some extent at least, the Canadian Institute furnished 
a reminder. 

There is, however, a utilitarianism that is unselfish, philan- 
thropic in the larger sense, making for the greatest good of 
the greatest number. This sort of idealized utilitarianism 
has been one of the most active factors in Sandford Fleming's 
career. It marked his character as a young man ; it will be 
revealed in many incidents of his later life. It is the natural 
and inevitable expression of his personality, for he is essen- 
tially a man of broad sympathies ; a man of big, unselfish 


ideas ; a practical and far-sighted patriot. He has always 
stood a little in advance of his times. He is a dreamer, but 
not a visionary. His dreams have always been practical and 
possible. He has had the courage to think independently, 
to preach great reforms, and he has had the patience to 
educate public opinion to the support of his projects. He 
has lived to see his dreams come true, simply because he 
would not rest until they had come true. He has had to meet 
on the one side the determined opposition of selfish interests, 
and on the other the much more formidable obstacle of public 
apathy or indifference, but in the end he has proved that even 
one man, with a good cause, and a thorough belief in both 
the cause and himself, must win. 

Fleming's interest in his professional work as an engineer 
was always sincere and whole-hearted. It was much more 
to him than a means of livelihood. He loved it for its own 
sake. He gloried in the problems it presented, the hard 
work it entailed, its difficulties and dangers, its repulses and 
final victories. But even in his busiest years, when every 
hour of the day had its strenuous and exacting duties, he 
managed somehow to find time for other and larger plans ; 
and when the time at last came when he felt free to retire from 
active professional life, it was simply to throw his tireless 
energies into those other channels. 

His interest in the Canadian Institute was an early mani- 
festation of this attitude. It would not have been like him 
to rest content with the successful launching of the society. 
For more than half a century he has identified himself with 
the life of the Institute, and in innumerable ways contributed 
to its success. The published transactions of the society 
reveal at least one form of his interests, and at the same time 
throw not a little light on the bent of his mind. To the early 
volumes he contributes papers on such subjects as the preser- 
vation and improvement of Toronto Harbour. Some years 
later we find him introducing a subject to which he was to 
return again and again, both here and in many other periodi- 
cals, that of ' uniform standard time ', and the adoption of 
a prime meridian. More will be said about this in another 


chapter. It is perhaps sufficient here to note the fact that 
while his first article on the subject in the transactions of the 
Institute appeared as long ago as 1879, ne was s ^ hammer- 
ing away at the same reform in the transactions for 1894. 
In 1893 he takes up the question of electoral representation, 
and the rectification of Parliament; and in that and the 
following year we find him contributing a series of historical 
and other articles, on such subjects as ocean steam naviga- 
tion, early steamboats, postage stamps and colour blindness, 
and historical pictures. 

Many years ago Lieutenant Robinson, a retired British 
officer, found in one of the walls of the old French fort at 
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, a stone inscription dated 
1606. Lieutenant Robinson gave it to Thomas Chandler 
Haliburton, the author of Sam Slick, the Clockmaker, who 
handed it over to his son, R. G. Haliburton. Fleming, always 
on the lookout for material that would be interesting and 
useful to the Canadian Institute, secured the stone from 
Mr. Haliburton, and deposited it in the museum of the 

Of the Institute itself, a few words may be said. The 
granting of a royal charter, in 185 1, gave it an assured 
standing, and encouraged its members to embark on broader 
seas. Union with the Toronto Athenaeum, in 1855, not 
only strengthened the membership but gave the nucleus 
of a library that has since become one of the strongest 
scientific reference libraries in the country. Some years 
later the Institute, which had hitherto been in temporary 
quarters, moved into its own commodious building. In 
1863 a medical section was formed ; and about the same 
time an entomological section. In 1885 the Natural History 
Society joined the Institute, bringing a valuable museum, 
and taking up the work of the biological section. The follow- 
ing year five new sections were added, architectural, photo- 
graphic, philological, historical, and geological and mining ; 
also an ornithological subsection of the biological section. 
Archaeological work was taken up in 1887, an d a splendid 
archaeological museum founded ; and in 1888 a sociological 


committee was formed, which carried out a series of inquiries 
into the social and political systems of the Indians of the 
Canadian north-west. Some of the sections named later 
branched off as independent societies, but the original stimu- 
lus came from the parent organization. As already mentioned, 
the Institute was, in 1914, honoured by His Majesty the King, 
on the recommendation of His Royal Highness the Duke of 
Connaught, with the title of ' Royal \ 

The Royal Canadian Institute has counted among its 
members many of the most eminent scholars, scientists, and 
statesmen of the country — men of more than national repu- 
tation. The character and standing of the society may be 
judged from the fact that it has been able to elect to its 
presidency such men as Sir William Logan, Sir John Henry 
Lefroy, Chief Justice Robinson, William Henry Draper, 
Sir Daniel Wilson, and Sir Oliver Mowat. When the Insti- 
tute celebrated, in 1899, the completion of the first half- 
century of its existence, a celebration in which Sandford 
Fleming took an active part, it must have given him peculiar 
satisfaction to realize that the seed sown in 1849 had grown 
into a great and vigorous tree. One may fittingly quote the 
concluding words of his account, prepared for the occasion, 
of the early days of the Institute : 

The ' writer vividly recalls ', he said, ' the words and acts 
of the earnest well-wishers of literary and scientific progress, 
with whom he had the happiness to co-operate in establishing 
the foundations of this society. It is indeed a high privilege, 
at the dawn of a new half-century, to be permitted to allude 
to them and pay respectful tribute to their memory. He 
feels that he cannot better conclude this brief sketch than 
in the words of one who may be regarded as perhaps the 
greatest benefactor of the Canadian Institute, the late General 
Sir Henry Lefroy : " This society has a dignified, an honour- 
able, and a patriotic object before it ; the field is wide and 
ready for the harvest, if the labourers are still few ; and if 
much of that knowledge, contingent upon a thousand advan- 
tages never as yet brought within our reach, which alone can 
truly appreciate or encourage their exertions, is at a low 


point among us, let us not doubt that it will gain ground 
with rapidity, and receive new impulses and new rewards 
from every endeavour we make to carry into effect the objects 
of our incorporation." To-day the objects before us are not 
less dignified, not less honourable, not less patriotic than 
when these words were spoken on January 8, 1853. The field 
is wider, the harvest more advanced, the labourers more 
numerous — every advantage has been increased and multi- 
plied during long years of patient progress. The Canadian 
Institute unquestionably stands on better vantage-ground 
than it did half a century ago. From this new starting-point 
are we not encouraged to look forward to greater and greater 
usefulness ? May we not anticipate a career in harmony with 
the progress of Canada in education, in material advance- 
ment, and in every phase of prosperity ? ' 

And at the semi-centennial meeting, speaking after the 
Earl of Minto, Governor-General of Canada, Fleming once 
more emphasized the importance of the work accomplished 
by the Institute, and to be accomplished. ' We recognize ', 
he said, ' that every society such as this is a human agency 
employed to shape and develop movements for the common 
good. On this pleasant planet we find everywhere a field for 
such agencies. Each individual member of such societies 
is an agent. He is given an opportunity of co-operating with 
his fellow members in investigations, in acquiring informa- 
tion, or in assisting in disseminating knowledge obtained. 
In one way or another every right-minded person, by becom- 
ing a member, can extend a helping hand in promoting the 
general advantage. Members of the Canadian Institute have 
accepted the opportunity offered them, and we come to 
recognize that their united efforts have been crowned with 
a full measure of success. 

' This society, as its name implies, is neither sectional nor 
local ; it occupies a wide sphere of activity and usefulness. 
One of its functions has been to encourage workers in all parts 
of Canada, however remote, to induce them to bring forward 
the result of their investigations, and, when of sufficient 
importance, to publish them. 


' For half a century the Institute has diligently followed 
its broad, elevated, and patriotic aims. Its published pro- 
ceedings have regularly found their way to kindred societies 
in every civilized country, and by being placed in the great 
public libraries of the world they are made accessible to all 
peoples. Inquiry into the published proceedings goes to 
show that the society has given much attention to questions 
of public concern, and by its successful efforts in extending 
the domain of knowledge, it has been the means by which 
great benefits have been conferred upon the scientific and 
general public, both within and without the Dominion/ 

Alluding to the fact that he attended the meeting as the 
official representative of Queen's University — of which he 
had been chancellor since 1880 — Fleming reminded his 
hearers that he was there not only as the official head of 
a Canadian college, but also as one of the pioneers of the 
Institute. ' It is my happiness, as an early member of the 
Canadian Institute, to bear testimony to the progress made 
and the benefits which have resulted from the work which 
has been achieved. 

* This is the fiftieth annual meeting. There are not many 
who can look back with me through the heat and haze of 
fifty Canadian summers and the snows of fifty Canadian 
winters to the beginning of this society in the year 1849. 
The first annual meeting was held on Saturday evening, 
December 7, 1850. At that date, the close of the first year 
of the society's existence, the membership counted sixty- 
four persons. Eight of these early members are still alive, 
and of the eight who survive, I am delighted to find in this 
assembly three who took an active part in founding the 
Canadian Institute so many years ago. I rejoice again to 
meet at an annual meeting of the Institute my old-time 
co-workers, Kivas Tully and Thomas Ridout, both so closely 
identified with its early days. It will suffice if I mention 
that in the office of Mr. Tully the Canadian Institute was 
cradled, and it was to Mr. Ridout we were under great 
obligations in connexion with the securing of the royal 
charter.' Since these words were spoken both Kivas 


Tully and Thomas Ridout have passed over to the great 

' I am afraid ', he continued, ' that I can only feebly and 
imperfectly put in words the feeling of genuine thankfulness 
we experience in being permitted to see realized the very 
sanguine expectations we long ago formed. It is a matter of 
profound satisfaction to find our society, after fifty swiftly- 
passing years, so prosperous ; to see rallying round it so 
many distinguished men, and to be privileged to bear witness 
to its development and progress in the presence of the repre- 
sentative of our Most Gracious Sovereign the Queen. 

' It is fitting that the society should celebrate the begin- 
ning of a new half -century of useful work. It is proper that 
its members should take a retrospective glance at the past, 
in order the better to pursue their useful and elevated aims. 
To-night we may be said to be taking stock. We are reckon- 
ing up the net result of the work in which the busy members 
of the Institute have been engaged for fifty years/ 

After making a plea for the establishment of a public 
museum, and a gallery of historical paintings, in connexion 
with the Institute, and referring to the part the Institute 
had taken in the movement for a simplification of the system 
of reckoning time, he concluded : 

* The name which your society bears, the articles of your 
charter, indicate the widest range of subjects for discussion ; 
they suggest the cultivation of the spirit of investigation in 
order that additions to knowledge may be made to the com- 
mon stock ; they invite research in every field ; they admit 
of the initiation of desirable movements in matters of general 
concern. The publications which have been widely circu- 
lated by the Institute, the hundreds of foreign societies 
which regularly send their proceedings in exchange, are 
memorable evidences that the Canadian Institute has done 
much to make known the good name of our country. 

1 Young members, this is no ordinary occasion. Entering 
on a new half-century, let me remind you that you are the 
heirs of fifty years of useful effort. It is for you to keep alive 
the lighted torch and pass it on to those who may come after 


you. It is for you to bequeath to another generation a 
record of work well done. 

1 In order that Canada may take her place worthily among 
the nations making up the British Empire, it is for you to 
see that she contributes a generous share of all that is best 
in letters, in science, and in art. On you is now placed 
a responsibility which I feel sure you will find pleasant to 
bear. It rests with you to do all in your power to foster 
and promote, as the years roll onward, every agency which 
has for its object the advancement of our country and 
our race/ 

It is not at all too much to say that of the success achieved 
by the Royal Canadian Institute, a very material proportion 
is due directly or indirectly to the personality and influence 
of Fleming. At a meeting of the Institute held January 12, 
1907, the following resolution was unanimously adopted : 

' Resolved, That the members of the Canadian Institute, 
bearing in mind the invaluable services rendered to the 
Institute during all the years from its foundation to the 
present time by Sir Sandford Fleming, K.C.M.G., LL.D., 
and recognizing the important results of his labours as an 
engineer in connexion with the Intercolonial and Canadian 
Pacific and other railways, and also in the promotion of 
all-round-the-world cable telegraphs and in many other 
ways advancing the interests of the British Empire, congratu- 
late him on his reaching his eightieth birthday, and on the 
extraordinary measure of health and strength which he 
enjoys in advanced years, and express the hope that he may 
yet have many more years of unalloyed happiness in store.' 



Three years after the founding of the Canadian Institute 
Fleming joined the staff of the Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron 
Railroad, afterwards known as the Northern Railway. He 
remained ten years with this railway, first as assistant 
engineer, and from 1855 to 1863 as chief engineer. Though 
comparatively uneventful, these were vitally important 
years to the young engineer. He was passing from young 
manhood to maturity, passing through the formative period 
of a man's life, and as the imaginative side found expression 
in the creation of the Canadian Institute, the practical 
engineer threw himself heart and soul into the novel prob- 
lems of a pioneer railway, gaining thereby experience and 
breadth of vision for the infinitely larger engineering prob- 
lems that awaited him in the future. 

Before describing briefly the period of his employment 
with the Northern Railway, however, a few words may be 
said as to his life in and about Toronto, from 1849, when 
he returned from Montreal with his commission as a land 
surveyor in his pocket, to 1852 when he joined the staff of the 
railway. His moderate success with the plans of Peter- 
boro and Cobourg encouraged him to complete a more 
ambitious survey of the city of Toronto, which had been 
commenced by Mr. J. Stoughton Dennis. A pupil of the 
latter, Mr. Charles Unwin, became associated with him in 
the undertaking. Mr. Unwin was afterwards appointed city 
surveyor of Toronto, which office he continued to fill for 
over half a century. Between them they completed the task, 
Mr. Unwin measuring ' every house in the then city ', and 
Fleming plotting the notes and engraving the map on stone. 
One must see this plan to get any idea of the patience and 
skill required to carry out such a minute piece of engraving. 


The scale was twelve chains or 792 feet to the inch, 
and every detail was worked out with absolute accuracy, 
though much of the effect of the work was lost by reason of 
the extremely reduced scale on which the publishers decided 
to have the plan plotted, | | 

Having completed the plan of Toronto, Fleming found 
leisure for an elaborate survey of Toronto Harbour and 
the adjacent shores of Lake Ontario. With characteristic 
patience and thoroughness he went out in a boat day after 
day for many weeks, taking soundings of every foot of the 
harbour, and embodied the results of his labours in an 
elaborate plan, the scientific value of which is appreciated 
to-day, though it was not at the time. From these data, 
and a careful study of the geology of the surrounding district, 
he drew certain important conclusions as to the formation 
of the harbour and the means that should be adopted for its 
preservation and improvement, and these he made public 
in a series of carefully thought-out papers. 

He was engaged for some months in carrying out surveys 
and plans for the Royal Engineers of properties controlled 
by the Imperial authorities in the neighbourhood of Toronto ; 
and spent a winter in nautical surveys on Lake Huron, from 
the Christian Islands to Penetanguishene and Matchadash 
Bay. This latter work was done for a projected railway 
known as the St. Lawrence and Lake Huron, the principal 
object being to secure a satisfactory terminus for the road. 
Fleming discovered in what was then known as Hog Bay, 
and which he renamed Victoria Harbour, an ideal railway 
terminus. Although the then projected railway came to 
naught, his judgement has been confirmed, sixty years after- 
wards, by the selection of this very harbour by the officers 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway as the terminus of one of 
their new branches. The name has once more been changed, 
and henceforth it will be known as Port McNicholl in honour 
of the general manager of the railway. On the shores of 
this splendid natural harbour, on the 7th of January, 185 1, 
Sandford Fleming spent his twenty-fourth birthday, sleeping 
at night in two or three feet of snow, with no tent, and the 


thermometer registering 14 below zero, his companions 
a dozen Indians and half-breeds. 

One other incident of this period of the young man's life 
deserves to be mentioned. In an old scrap-book at * Winter- 
holme/ Fleming's home in Ottawa, is preserved a curious 
little relic of his industry as an artist and engraver sixty odd 
years ago. It is the faded proof of a Canadian postage- 
stamp, and beneath it is this note : - This is the first proof 
from the copperplate of the first postage-stamp issued in 
Canada, designed by Fleming for the Postmaster-General, 
the Honourable James Morris, dated Toronto, February 


This same year 1851, which saw Fleming about to enter 
upon his first important undertaking as a railway engineer, 
was a notable one in the history of railway development in 
Canada. In that year Lord and Lady Elgin broke ground at 
Toronto for the first Ontario railway — the Ontario, Simcoe, 
and Huron ; in the same year an act was passed by the 
Canadian Legislature providing for the construction of 
a main trunk line through the two Canadas ; the Canadian 
Railway Committee had under consideration a bill for the 
construction of a railway through British North America to 
the Pacific Ocean ; the battle royal of the gauges was fought 
before the same Committee ; and delegates from the British 
North American provinces went to England to arrange for 
the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. As the late 
George Johnson concisely puts it in his Alphabet of First 
Things in Canada, ' Thus in 1851 began the movement 
which has resulted in the Dominion possessing (a) a general 
system of railways numbering (in 1897) 136 ; (b) the Grand 
Trunk Railway system, by the amalgamation of twenty-five 
of these ; (c) the Canadian Government Railway system ; 
(d) the Canadian Pacific Railway system, in which are con- 
solidated twenty-two railways ; (e) seventy-six other separ- 
ate railway organizations, formed by consolidations of eighty- 
nine railways.' 

Before returning to Fleming's connexion with the Northern 
Railway, it may not be out of place to say a few words here 



as to the beginnings of the railway movement in what 
is now Canada. ' The agitation for railways in British 
North America', says George Johnson, 'began almost as 
soon as the success of George Stephenson's railway was 
assured. One of the earliest efforts was made in St. Andrews, 
New Brunswick, in 1827, two years after George Stephenson 
had completed the first railway in England. In 1828 John 
Wilson convened a public meeting in St. Andrews to discuss 
the question of a railway to Quebec. Four years later Henry 
Fairbairn, writing in the United Service Journal, turned the 
attention of the British public to the necessity of a railway 
system for British North America. He said, " I propose 
first to form a railway for wagons from Quebec to the 
harbour of St. Andrews, upon the Bay of Fundy — a route 
which will convey the trade of the St. Lawrence in a single 
day to the Atlantic waters." In consequence of his efforts 
an association was formed by the inhabitants of St. Andrews ; 
explorations were made and reports submitted. In Decem- 
ber 1835, a deputation went to Quebec to bring the question 
to the attention of the sister province. Resolutions favour- 
able to the undertaking were adopted in the same month 
by both Houses of the Lower Canadian Legislature. The 
Committees of Trade in Quebec and Montreal appointed 
special committees to act in concert with the delegation. 
In January 1836 a delegation went to England, carrying 
with them a petition to the King. The Nova Scotian Legis- 
lature passed a resolution similar to that passed by the 
Lower Canadian Legislature, and the Legislature of New 
Brunswick passed an act incorporating the St. Andrews and 
Quebec Railway Company. The Imperial Government made 
a grant of $50,000 to be expended in the exploration and 
survey of the proposed line of railway from Quebec to 
St. Andrews. This survey was placed under the control of 
Captain Yule of the Royal Engineers, and work was begun 
on July 23, 1836. At that time the country through 
which Captain Yule prosecuted the surveys was held to be 
wholly British territory. In 1 837, however, the United States 
Government made objections to the route proposed, on the 


ground that they claimed part of the territory. Notifica- 
tion of the fact was given to the Governor-General of Canada 
and to the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and 
orders were given by the British authorities to stop work 
until the boundary line was settled/ 

In the meantime a less ambitious railway project had 
not only been mooted but made an accomplished fact in 
Lower Canada, now the province of Quebec. A charter had 
been obtained in 1832 from the provincial legislature for 
a railway from Laprairie on the St. Lawrence River, to St. 
John's on the Richelieu, under the name of the Champlain 
and St. Lawrence Railway. The work was pushed forward, 
and on July 23, 1836, the first passenger railway in Canada 
was formally opened by the Governor-General, Lord Gosford. 
The first train consisted of four cars, and they were drawn 
by horses, the locomotive ordered for the railway having 
proved refractory. 

Some further particulars of this first Canadian railway 
are given in Prout's Railways of Canada. * The rails ', he 
says, ' were of wood with flat bars of iron spiked on them, 
and from the tendency of this class of rail to curl or bend 
upward as the wheels passed over it, it became known as 
the " snake rail ". From this awkward peculiarity it often 
happened that the rails came into contact with the body of 
the cars or other rolling stock, in which case both fared 
badly. The first locomotive used on the line was sent from 
Europe, accompanied by an engineer who, for some unex- 
plained reason, had it caged and secreted from public view. 
The trial trip was made by moonlight in the presence of 
a few interested parties, and it is not described as a success. 
Several attempts were made to get the " Kitten " — for such 
was the nickname applied to this pioneer locomotive — to 
run to St. John's, but in vain ; the engine proved refractory, 
and horses were substituted for it. It is related, however, 
that a practical engineer being called in from the United 
States, the engine which was thought to be hopelessly un- 
manageable, was pronounced in good order, requiring only 
" plenty of wood and water ". This opinion proved correct, 



for after a little practice the " extraordinary " speed of 
twenty miles an hour was attained/ 

The Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron was, as has already been 
said, the first railway opened in the province of Ontario. 
The preliminary work on the road had been undertaken by 
an American engineer, H. C. Seymour. In August 1852 the 
engineering staff was re-organized, and Frederick Cumberland, 
a man combining engineering skill with rare business and 
organizing ability, became chief engineer, with Alfred Brunei 
and Sandford Fleming as his assistants. The first section of 
the road from Toronto to Aurora, thirty miles, was opened 
to the public on May 16, 1853 ; the next section to Bradford, 
on June 13th of the same year ; the line was completed to 
Barrie on October nth ; and before the end of the following 
year to Collingwood on Georgian Bay. The line had already 
been located from Toronto to Barrie before Cumberland 
became chief engineer, and the work of construction was 
well under way, but it was found necessary to revise much 
of this work so as to make it more permanent and sub- 
stantial, and from Barrie to the shores of Georgian Bay the 
route had not yet been decided. It was on this new section 
of the road that Sandford Fleming was for the most part 
engaged in 1852. Five separate routes were surveyed 
from Barrie : north-east to Penetanguishene ; north-east to 
Victoria Bay ; north and north-west to Nottawasaga ; west 
and north to Nottawasaga; and west and north-west to 
Collingwood. Finally the last route was decided upon as the 
best from an engineering and commercial standpoint. 

Collingwood has been mentioned as the terminus of the 
route selected for the railway, but as a matter of fact no such 
place existed in 1852. A few years before a small settlement 
had sprung up on the shores of Georgian Bay, named 
Hurontario, after the pioneer road known as Hurontario 
Street. The place selected as the terminus of the Ontario, 
Simcoe, and Huron Railway was a little west of this, and 
was then known as Hen-and-Chickens, on account of the 
number of small islands that studded the shore. When 
Cumberland, Fleming, E. C. Hancock, Sheriff B. W. Smith, 

*¥■:'. ' 



and others interested in the proposed terminus, came over 
to the bay in 1852, they were met by several residents 
of the neighbourhood, and after going over the ground very 
carefully, the Hen-and-Chickens was found to be the most 
satisfactory point for the terminus and for the town that was 
to be. 

A local chronicler says that ' while stopping at a rock 
which peered above the deep snow on the shores of the 
harbour, the discussion turned to the name of the new town. 
Mr. Cumberland suggested Victoria in honour of the Queen ; 
others thought it well to retain the existing name of Hen- 
and-Chickens ; while Mr. D. E. Buist offered the name of 
Collingwood, already borne by a neighbouring township. 
The latter name was accepted as the most suitable/ There- 
upon the infant town of Collingwood was christened with 
a bottle of wine. In honour of the occasion, Mr. Stephens, 
a well-to-do farmer of Nottawasaga, gave a dinner to the 
directors and engineers of the railway, and a number of the 
prominent settlers of the district, nearly all of whom were 
Highlanders. A great dish of haggis stood at one end of the 
table, and behind it sat Captain Hancock, looking rather be- 
wildered. As he was about to carve the mysterious dish, some 
one at the other end of the board cried out, ' What is that 
you have, Hancock ? ' ' Don't know,' replied Hancock, ' but 
it looks to me like a bran mash.' One can picture the in- 
dignation of the Highlanders. That the Sassenach should 
be ignorant of the greatest of Highland dishes was bad 
enough, but that he should dare to compare it to the vulgar 
mess fed to cattle was wellnigh intolerable. 

A portion of the summer of 1852 had been spent in com- 
pleting a line of levels from Toronto north to Barrie. The 
work was somewhat tedious, the weather unusually hot, and 
the engineers perennially thirsty. On one occasion, says 
Fleming, they came to a primitive tavern at Penetanguishene 
kept by one Jeffery. Cumberland and he went in, found the 
proprietor, and asked what he could give them to drink. 
Jeffery produced a decanter of what seemed to be whisky, 
and a couple of glasses. The tired travellers sat down 


expectantly. The proprietor chatted amiably of the weather. 
At length Cumberland's thirst got the better of his patience. 
1 Where 's the water ? ' he cried. ' Oh ! ' replied Jeffery, 
' I'll fetch some from the pump if you wish, but you won't 
need much, for I've watered it twice already.' 

An even more disastrous attempt to quench their thirst 
is associated with the township of York, a few miles north 
of Toronto. Plodding along with their instruments, under 
a grilling sun, the engineers came in sight of an inviting- 
looking farm-house. The idea occurred to them simultane- 
ously that a glass of cool milk would at the moment fulfil all 
their earthly desires. The hospitable goodwife invited them 
in, showed them into her best room, and went off for a jug of 
milk. Cumberland and Fleming sat down in the grateful shade 
of the darkened room and waited. Presently the goodwife 
returned with a brimming jug of cool, refreshing milk. 
She put down the jug and went to a corner cupboard for 
glasses. It is well to repeat here that the blinds were down 
to keep out the glare of the sun. The glasses were brought 
forth, and the milk poured into them. The parched en- 
gineers smiled gratefully at their hostess and lifted the 
glasses to their lips. One never paused until the last drop 
had disappeared. The other got half through, and then 
halted irresolutely. He was still thirsty, but there was 
a mysterious metallic rattle at the bottom of his glass. He 
took it over to the window, held it up to the light, set it down 
hastily, and retreated in disorder from the farm-house. The 
old lady had poured his milk into the glass in which she kept 
her Sunday teeth ! 

Little incidents like these served to lighten the monotony 
of the surveys between Toronto and Barrie. This was 
a comparatively settled country, and the work presented no 
serious difficulties so far as travelling was concerned. From 
Barrie to Collingwood the conditions were very different. 
The route lay through an unopened district, with no roads, 
and heavy going — brush, rock, and swamp. However, the 
surveys were pushed ahead, and by the summer of 1854 
trains were running to Barrie and the track laid on to 


Nottawasaga. About this time Fleming had important 
business to attend to at Collingwood, which demanded 
immediate attention. He took the train from Toronto to 
Barrie, and rode on a construction engine to the end of rails 
then near Nottawasaga Bridge. From there he pushed on 
through broken country to Collingwood, a few miles on horse- 
back, and the rest of the way on foot. 

On his return journey, on reaching Nottawasaga he found 
that the engine had returned to Barrie, and that he had very 
little time to get there before the one daily train left for 
Toronto. It was imperative that he should not lose a day. 
There was nothing for it, however, but to march over the 
ties to Barrie, and four miles an hour was about as much as 
any man could accomplish on such a road. He started off 
at his best speed, and was making fairly good progress with 
his eyes glued to the ties. Suddenly a shadow fell across 
the track before him, and he looked up hastily to see a huge 
bear sitting complacently on his haunches between the rails, 
not twenty paces ahead. What was to be done ? Im- 
passable swamp lay on either hand. The bear showed no 
signs of moving ; seemed in fact to be very comfortable 
where she was ; and only mildly interested in the man. So 
they faced each other, the bear and the man ; the bear in 
perfect good humour, but determined to maintain the status 
quo \ the man, thinking of that waiting train at Barrie, 
glared at the bear with rapidly rising indignation. Finally 
it boiled over, and, reckless of consequences, he rushed at 
the bear, waving his only weapon, an old-fashioned umbrella, 
and yelling at the top of his voice. The bear stood his 
ground for a moment, and then ignominiously fled into the 
swamp. Fleming lost no time in idle reflections as to how it 
all happened, or more idle curiosity as to the second thoughts 
of the bear. He redoubled his speed over the ties, and caught 
the train at Barrie as it was pulling out of the station. 

The railway was finally completed from Toronto to Coll- 
ingwood, and proved a valuable asset to that part of the 
province. It subsequently fell into difficulties for a time, 
but as its vicissitudes form no part of the life of Sandford 


Fleming, they need not be enlarged upon here. Eventually 
it became a portion of the Grand Trunk system. Meanwhile 
in 1855 Fleming succeeded Cumberland as chief engineer, 
and remained in that position until the close of 1862, when 
he finally retired. The following testimonial, dated January 
1, 1863, which was accompanied by a collection of signed 
photographs of all the principal officers and employees of 
the railway, illustrates the cordial relationship that existed 
between the chief engineer and his colleagues and sub- 
ordinates : 

1 Presented to Sandford Fleming, Esq., C.E., by the officers, 
employees and contractors engaged in the construction and 
late restoration of the Northern Railway of Canada, as 
a token of their respect and admiration for his public char- 
acter as an engineer, and of their highest esteem and regard 
for his private worth as a friend.' 

In acknowledging the testimonial and the good wishes of 
his friends and associates on the railway, Fleming said : 
' I need scarcely allude to the cause of my retirement from 
the position of chief engineer to the Company. You all 
know that I have finished my work, and that such an office 
as it was my privilege to fill is now no longer required. It is 
one of the misfortunes of the profession to which I am proud 
to belong that our business is to make and not to enjoy ; we 
no sooner make a rough place smooth than we must move 
to another and fresh field, leaving others to enjoy what we 
have accomplished. We are, however, satisfied that it should 
be so ; we take pleasure in having work to do, and a pride in 
it after it is done.' In taking leave of the staff, he handed 
over to them two relics of the road, which though of no in- 
trinsic value might be worth preserving. The first is a por- 
tion of the first sod turned by the Countess of Elgin on 
Wednesday, October 15, 1851, in front of the old Parliament 
buildings in Toronto ; and the second, a piece of the christen- 
ing bottle used when Collingwood Harbour was named on 
Friday, January 14, 1853. 

The year that saw his promotion to the position of chief 
engineer, was marked by a more important event in the life 


of Fleming. It has been mentioned in an earlier chapter 
that among the young friends who helped to make life pleasant 
for him at Peterboro was the daughter of Sheriff Hall. 
Friendship had ripened into a warmer sentiment, and on 
January 3, 1855, Ann Jean Hall became the wife of Sandford 

An incident of this period of Fleming's life may be briefly 
mentioned, as illustrating another side of his character. In 
1861, when the 10th Royals were organized at Toronto, he 
was offered a captaincy, but found at first some difficulty in 
securing recruits. His company was still under strength, 
in fact very much so, when word came that Colonel Wiley 
was expected from Quebec to inspect the regiment. Here 
was a pretty kettle of fish. Whatever his fellow officers 
might do, Captain Fleming at least was determined that 
something better than a skeleton company must be forth- 
coming before the inspecting officer appeared on the scene. 
But Colonel Wiley was due in a very few days. Ordinary 
methods of recruiting were out of the question. This was 
a desperate situation, and required a desperate remedy. 
Putting all other duties aside, the zealous officer made 
a personal canvass of every home and workshop in the 
neighbourhood containing an able-bodied man. Getting 
each man up in a corner, he appealed directly to his local 
pride and patriotism. He would listen to no excuses. This 
was a case where Canada, where Toronto, where their own 
peculiar corner of Toronto, expected every man to do his 
duty. His eloquence and enthusiasm carried the day. There 
was scarcely an available man that had not been enrolled 
in Fleming's company ; and when the fateful day arrived, 
the proud captain was able to muster some seventy odd men, 
where hitherto there had been scarcely more than a baker's 
dozen. The other officers, having been less industrious, or 
perhaps less ingenious in their methods, glanced with envious 
amazement from their own handful to the crowded ranks 
of Fleming's company. But more was yet to come. One 
of the new recruits, filled with enthusiasm at such a brave 
showing, suggested to the captain that a fife and drum band 


would lend eclat to the company. He himself could play 
the flute, and he undertook to provide a drummer if the 
captain would stand the price of a drum. The captain could 
and did. When therefore the ioth Royals mustered for 
drill in the new drill shed, Captain Fleming proudly marched 
his men around the other companies to the music of a fife 
and drum band, which made up in energy what it lacked 
in numbers. It deserves to be commemorated as the first 
volunteer band in the Canadian militia. 

The previous year, in connexion with the visit of the then 
Prince of Wales, Fleming had proposed the creation of what 
was known as the Prince's Walk, on the bank above the 
esplanade on Front Street, between Bay and Brock Streets, 
the walk to be a mile long, with a double row of trees, walnut 
and poplar alternating with spruce. Bishop Strachan, 
Sheriff Jarvis, and other prominent citizens of Toronto, 
planted the first trees opposite Bishop Strachan's house. 
The Colonist, in an editorial commending the project, sug- 
gested facetiously that ' if the fashions in ladies' dresses do 
not alter this coming summer from what they were last, 
then twenty feet is hardly of sufficient dimensions for the 
Walk '. 

One further incident may be recorded as belonging to this 
period of the young man's life. ' I was subpoenaed ', he says, 
' as a witness in a water-power case at Brockville. The 
litigants were Coleman and Macdonald : the latter, father of 
Charles Macdonald who designed the Poughkeepsie Bridge. 
There were some twenty-eight witnesses. The first one called 
took an entire day. Thinking with dismay that at that rate 
the trial might last twenty-eight days, and very anxious to 
get home, I set about finding some shorter road to a settle- 
ment. At dinner at the hotel that night I asked my neigh- 
bour, who seemed good-natured and communicative, if he 
knew anything about the case. 

"'I regret to say that I do," he replied. "lam one of the 
principals. My name is Coleman." 

' It appeared from further conversation that he and his 
opponent had formerly been great friends, but that both 


they and their families had been estranged by reason of 
this wretched dispute. 

1 I asked him if he was anxious to see the case settled 
without further litigation. 

1 " Indeed I am/' said he. "I would give a great deal if 
it could be arranged.' ' 

' " Will you come and talk it over in my room at 
8 o'clock ? " I asked. He promised to do so, and that much 
being settled, I went off to make the acquaintance of the 
other party to the quarrel, Macdonald. Him I found also 
anxious to reach a settlement, thoroughly tired of the whole 
business, but inclined to throw the blame on Coleman, with 
whom he seemed very indignant. Finally he also agreed to 
come to my room at 8 o'clock to talk the matter over. I 
was careful not to let either know that I had approached 
the other. 

' At 8 o'clock sharp, Coleman arrived at my room. I 
placed him where he could not be seen from the door. We 
chatted for a few minutes, when there was another knock. 
I opened the door, let Macdonald in, and immediately locked 
the door and put the key in my pocket. Then I turned to 
the two men, and gravely introduced one to the other. 
Both were, of course, indignant with me, but in view of the 
locked door, they decided to make the best of the situation. 
I trembled for a moment or two as to the success of my not 
altogether unselfish efforts as a peacemaker, but the atmo- 
sphere gradually became less frigid, and we dropped into 
a reasonably friendly conversation. 

' Then when the time seemed ripe, I unlocked the door, 
sent a waiter for whisky toddy and biscuits, and we talked 
over the vexed question in dispute. As an unprejudiced 
outsider I was able to make some suggestions as a basis for 
settlement, and finally sat down and wrote out an agreement, 
which, after I had read it to them, both men signed, with 
I think a sigh of relief. Some one suggested the need of 
seals. Lacking the proper material, we used what we had 
within reach, and made fairly presentable seals out of chewed 
biscuit. Then, after a final round of toddy, we parted for 


the night. I told them I was tired, and would sleep late 
the next morning. Coleman and Macdonald both promised 
to show the agreement to their respective counsel in the 
morning. By the way, the former was represented by 
A. N. Richards, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of British 
Columbia, and the latter by S. H. Blake. 

'The following morning I was aroused by an agitated 
knock on my door, and found Coleman outside. " The fat 's 
in the fire ! " he cried. " My lawyer says the agreement 
won't do at all." Presently Macdonald arrives with a similar 
story from his learned counsel. 

' " Tut, tut ! " I said, " of course the lawyers will have none 
of it. No doubt from their point of view it 's a most irre- 
gular and improper proceeding. But take the agreement 
into court, both of you, and read it to the judge, telling him 
that it is satisfactory to both of you, and that neither of you 
care to continue the case at his own expense." They did so, 
and the matter was settled in five minutes. The settlement 
was left in the hands of a board of arbitrators consisting of 
two hydraulic engineers and an umpire. 

' Later in the morning I made my way to the station, with 
Coleman on one arm and Macdonald on the other, a pro- 
cession of thirty or forty witnesses and others following. 
Blake and Richards, who evidently regarded me as an 
impudent interloper, stood coldly aloof. As the train was 
about to start, Coleman put in my hand a letter which 
turned out to be a very kind acknowledgement of apprecia- 
tion and a handsome cheque from each — my first and last 
fee as an amateur lawyer.' 

vSaxdford Fleming in 1S60 



In 1863, the year that he severed his connexion with the 
Northern Railway, Fleming was asked on behalf of the 
people of the Red River Colony to present to the Canadian 
and Imperial Governments a memorial praying for the 
establishment of means of communication between the 
eastern provinces and British Columbia, by way of Lake 
Superior, the Red River Country, and the Saskatchewan. 

At that time he had not visited the Red River Colony, 
but for some years had been a warm advocate of the policy 
of building a railway across British North America from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific, and as a preliminary measure the 
provision of a road from Lake Superior to the Red River 
Colony and the mountains. In 1858 he had published 
a lecture on the subject, and in 1862 had gone into the 
matter more fully in his ' Practical Observations on the Con- 
struction of a Continuous Line of Railway from Canada to 
the Pacific Ocean on British Territory/ published as an 
appendix to Henry Youle Hind's Sketch of an Overland Route 
to British Columbia. 

Fleming's interest in the transportation problem was 
known to James Ross and William Coldwell, proprietors of 
the Nor* Wester, then the only newspaper in the colony. 
Ross and Coldwell were closely identified with the movement 
for connecting Red River Colony with the eastern provinces 
by an all-British route, and when the people were casting 
about for some one to bring their views to the attention of 
the Colonial and Imperial Governments, they at once sug- 
gested Fleming. 

The Memorial was drawn up, approved at a public meeting, 
and sent to Fleming in January 1863. Because of its bearing 
on the later history of Canadian transcontinental railways, 


with which he was to be so closely identified, it is worth 
while to give the document in full : 

' The people of the Red River Settlement hereby desire 
briefly to set forth their views and wishes in reference to the 
proposed opening up of the road from Canada to British 
Columbia through the Red River and Saskatchewan region, 
and the establishing of a telegraphic line along the same. 

' The people of Red River have long earnestly desired to 
see the Lake Superior route opened up for commerce and 
emigration, and they rejoice to hear of the proposal to open 
up a road and establish a line of telegraphic communication 
through the interior to British Columbia, entirely within 
British territory, believing that such works would greatly 
benefit this country, while subserving at the same time both 
Canadian and Imperial interests. 

' With reference to that section of the country lying 
between this settlement and Lake Superior, it is respectfully 
submitted that the difficulties to be encountered in opening 
up an easy communication are entirely overrated. 

' It is true that this route, for reasons which need not here 
be alluded to, has of late years been neglected ; yet when the 
fact is generally known that this was the regular route by 
which the North- West Fur Company imported and exported 
heavy cargoes for more than a quarter of a century, and 
which the Hudson Bay Company have used more or less 
for nearly three-quarters of a century, it must be granted 
that the natural difficulties cannot be so great as they are 
commonly reported to be. 

* We, the people of this settlement, are so anxious to have 
a proper outlet in this direction that we are quite prepared 
ourselves to undertake at our own expense the opening of 
a road from this settlement to Lake of the Woods, a distance 
of ninety or a hundred miles, if England or Canada will 
guarantee the opening of the section from Lake of the Woods 
to Lake Superior. 

* From our intimate knowledge of the country lying be- 
tween this place and the Rocky Mountains, we consider the 
project of a road in that direction perfectly practicable at 


a comparatively small outlay. At all times during the 
summer season, loaded carts go from this place to Carlton, 
Fort Pitt, and Edmonton, on the Upper Saskatchewan ; 
and last summer a party of Canadians, about two hundred 
in number (en route to British Columbia), passed over the 
same road, and went with their vehicles to the very base of 
the Rocky Mountains ; clearly showing that along the 
whole way there are, even at present, no insuperable ob- 
stacles to the passage of carts and wagons. And if, in its 
present natural unimproved state, the road is usable, it 
must be evident that only a comparatively small outlay will 
be requisite to make it all that could be desired. 

1 The whole country through which the proposed road 
would run, almost from Lake Superior to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, is remarkably level. The surface of this vast region 
is, generally speaking, like the ocean surface in a calm, and 
besides being so remarkably level, it is, for the most part, free 
from those heavy forests which, in Canada and elsewhere, 
cause such delay and expense in road-making. We believe 
that a railway could be here laid at a cheaper rate than in 
most countries. 

' Having thus cursorily alluded to the practicability of 
the road, on which point our local knowledge and experience 
ought to give our views some weight, and while admitting 
the intense interest and satisfaction with which we view the 
prospect of a work fraught with so much good to us politi- 
cally, socially, and commercially, we might be allowed to 
point out very briefly the views we entertain regarding its 
importance to England and Canada alike. 

1 Canada would derive great benefit from the Overland 
carrying trade, which would spring up immediately on the 
establishment of this route, and the constantly growing 
traffic of this district and British Columbia would thereafter 
be an ever-increasing source of profit. 

' Besides this, it may reasonably be presumed that the 
people of Central British America, present and prospective, 
would prove permanent and liberal customers in the mar- 
kets of England and Canada. Be it remembered, moreover 


that a vast fur business is carried on in this country, and 
that, toward the Rocky Mountains, gold has been discovered 
in many quarters. Besides gold there are iron, lead, coal, 
petroleum, and other minerals which, together with the rich 
fur trade, would prove a source of great wealth, not only to 
this country but to Canada ; and although the colonization 
and settlement of the vast area of cultivable land would 
somewhat curtail the territorial limits of the fur business, 
still, the millions of acres north of the fertile tract will, in 
all probability, remain a rich fur country for centuries to 

1 This is the most natural highway by which commerce 
and general business with the East could be carried on. It 
would be also the most expeditious. And as a result of 
such commerce and traffic along this route, Central British 
America would rapidly fill up with an industrious loyal 
people ; and thus, from Vancouver's Island to Nova Scotia, 
Great Britain would have an unbroken series of colonies, 
a grand confederation of loyal and flourishing provinces, 
skirting the whole United States frontier, and commanding 
at once the Atlantic and the Pacific. In this connexion we 
feel bound to observe that American influence is rapidly 
gaining ground here ; and, if action is long delayed, very 
unpleasant complications may arise. Thus both politically 
and commercially the opening up of this country, and the 
making through it of a national highway, would immensely 
subserve Imperial interests, and contribute to the stability 
and glorious prestige of the British Empire. 

' These views the people of Red River desire most respect- 
fully to present for the consideration of the British and 
Canadian Governments ; and they earnestly hope that this 
year may witness the formal commencement of operations 
with a view to a telegraphic line, and a road from Lake 
Superior to this settlement, if not through the whole extent 
of country from Canada to British Columbia/ 

It will have been seen that the people of the Red River 
settlement wanted a road built from Lake Superior to the 
Red River, as part of a larger project — a road from Lake 


Superior to British Columbia ; and they evidently regarded 
this latter road as the preliminary step toward a line of 
railway, or a combined rail and water route, that would 
eventually traverse British North America from ocean to 
ocean. This transcontinental railway scheme was one that 
had already engaged the attention of several far-sighted men, 
men of big ideas, men who like Sandford Fleming possessed 
that rare combination of common sense and imagination 
that has been the driving force behind all great public 
enterprises. The average man could find in such a project, 
at such a time, nothing short of madness ; and the enthusiast 
who urged it was branded as a crank. The former, with his 
eyes close to the ground, saw only a number of scattered and 
struggling colonies, east and west, with an immense wilder- 
ness between, practically uninhabited and, as he believed, 
uninhabitable. The idea of building a railway, or even a 
road, through such a country did not seem to him worthy 
of serious consideration. The man of ideas looked into the 
future, saw these isolated communities linked together with 
a chain of steel, and the uninhabited wilderness part of a 
continental dominion peopled from sea to sea. Because 
Fleming was a man of big ideas, with a firm faith in the 
destiny of his country, he threw himself whole-heartedly 
into the project which meant so much to the people of the 
Red River settlement. 

He first brought the Memorial to the attention of the 
Canadian Government, of which John Sandfield Macdonald 
was then premier. In forwarding the Memorial, he supported 
it with an elaborate statement of his own views on the subject. 
* The opening up of a means of easy communication between 
Lake Superior and Red River ', he said, ' might fairly be 
advocated as an act of simple justice to our fellow subjects 
in that remote settlement, who have been practically exiled 
from civilization for more than two generations ; who have 
endured hardships of no ordinary description in contending 
with many difficulties whilst endeavouring on those vast 
plains to cultivate the soil and earn a laborious livelihood ; 
and who, if they have not increased so rapidly in numbers 


and importance as other colonists in settlements favoured by 
nature and good government, have at least succeeded in 
establishing an important nucleus for further colonization.' 

Elsewhere he gives an interesting account of the struggling 
little colony as it appeared in 1863 : ' The community of 
settlers at Red River, isolated in many respects from, and, 
until lately, unnoticed by the rest of the world, is now ex- 
citing no small degree of attention. The people of Red River 
remained tranquil in their solitude so long as the vast areas 
to the south of the international boundary line were as wild 
and unoccupied as the plains which surround them on all 
sides. The progress of their republican neighbours in open- 
ing and organizing new territories has, however, awakened 
them to a knowledge of their true condition. They have 
been silent witnesses of the march of colonization westward 
from Lake Michigan across the states of Wisconsin and 
Minnesota to Dakota ; they have seen an industrious 
population reckoned by hundreds of thousands introduced 
almost alongside of them, whilst their own settlement scarcely 
increases in numbers ; they know that there is nothing in 
their own soil and climate to keep them from advancing ; 
they are satisfied with the richness of the one and the salu- 
brity of the other ; but they cannot help feeling mortified 
at the strong contrast between the satisfactory progress of 
their neighbours, and the absence of prosperity with them- 
selves. Justly or unjustly, they attribute their backward 
condition to the sway of the Hudson Bay Fur Company, 
and they clamour in a way that cannot be misunderstood, 
against a further continuance of a rule which they appear to 
believe is the chief hindrance to their progress. 

' The settlement was first formed half a century ago by 
immigrants from the old country ; the population now con- 
sists of British-born subjects and their descendants ; they 
live and have always lived on British territory, but they are 
not yet literally a British colony. They know that they are 
subjects of the Queen, and this is their pride ; they desire to 
be recognized at the Colonial Office, and this is their ambi- 
tion ; they wish to have a voice which, as British subjects, 


' . -^ 


they claim they have a right to possess, in the management 
of local affairs. Had they the powers and privilege of an 
ordinary Township Council, they feel that they could do 
a great deal towards improving their condition and moulding 
their destinies ; but this they have not, and this is their 
grievance and mortification. Whilst their own settlement is 
of fifty years' standing, they see Minnesota and Dakota, 
whose boundaries sweep past at the short distance of sixty 
or seventy miles, States only of yesterday but already 

* Practically, too, the people of Red River settlement are 
at present cut off from all intercourse with the mother 
country except through a foreign state. The old route by 
which they had access fifty years ago has, for want of 
a small expenditure to keep it open, fallen into disuse ; no 
wonder then that they grumble at the seeming indifference 
of the parent land.' 

' However valuable the possession of a road from Canada 
to British Columbia might be considered ', he continued, 
' simply as a means of intercourse between these two coun- 
tries, it is obvious that their great distance apart would be 
an insuperable obstacle to its construction, were it not for 
the favourable character of the intervening territory of 
which the Red River district forms a portion/ He then 
proceeded to describe the character of the soil and climate 
of the prairie country, and its adaptability for colonization 
and settlement, marshalling the evidence of those who had 
first-hand knowledge of the country, such as the scientific 
officers of the Palliser expedition and the Hind and Dawson 
surveys. It is interesting to note the positive statement 
of Lorin Blodget, the American climatologist, made half 
a century ago, upon purely scientific data, that ' the basin 
of the Winnipeg is the seat of the greatest average wheat 
product on this continent, and probably in the world'. 
Blodget 's prediction, laughed at in his own day, has since 
been amply justified. 

In considering the formidable problem of connecting the 
Atlantic and Pacific colonies of British North America by 



means of a system of transportation, Fleming brought for- 
ward an ingenious scheme which he had first advocated 
some eight years before, a scheme which he believed would 
combine efficiency and economy to a larger extent than any 
other plan. The guiding principle of this scheme was that 
means of transportation should be neither too far in advance 
of population nor on the other hand lag too far behind ; 
but that it should advance and develop with the population 
it was designed to serve. And this principle involved the 
idea that means of transportation should follow lines of 
evolution, from the pioneer road or trail to the steam railway ; 
the simple, rough pioneer road alone actually to precede the 
settler, while more elaborate and expensive means of trans- 
portation were to be developed gradually and systematically 
to keep pace with the needs of a growing population. There 
was, however, one exception to the evolutionary principle : the 
telegraph was not to wait for the railway, but was to be built 
at the very beginning, with the territorial or pioneer road. 

Applying this ingenious scheme to the continental field 
under consideration, Fleming proposed that, in the first 
place, careful surveys should be made to ascertain the most 
practicable and satisfactory route from ocean to ocean. 
Then a simple territorial road should be built along this 
route, and a continuous line of telegraph constructed to 
connect the existing eastern system with British Columbia, 
the wooded districts to be cleared to a width of two chains 
along the road to safeguard the telegraph line. The next 
stage would be to convert the territorial road to one passable 
for wheeled vehicles. In the course of a few years this 
improved highway would be transformed into a macadamized 
road of the best description. The final stage of progress 
would be the building of a railway on the line thus in a great 
measure prepared for it. 

This was the plan which Fleming proposed as the most 
practicable and economical means of meeting the legitimate 
demands of the people of the Red River settlement for 
transportation facilities, and at the same time laying the 
foundations of a transcontinental railway. Whether or 


not it would have been a wiser plan than that ultimately 
adopted to meet the peculiar political and other needs of 
British North America may be a debatable point. At the 
same time it may be pointed out that the first transconti- 
nental railway across Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway, 
was not commenced until the year 1881 ; and it is quite 
conceivable that, had Fleming's scheme been adopted in 
1863, a territorial road at once constructed across the con- 
nentinent with a telegraph line, followed in a few years by 
wagon and macadamized roads, and ultimately by the 
railway, settlement would have flowed into the West years 
before the tide actually turned in that direction, the cost 
of the railway would have been enormously reduced, and 
the two rebellions in the North-West might have been 
avoided altogether. Certainly the scheme, applied to any 
locality, would have been much more logical and economical 
than the haphazard plan almost invariably adopted in the 
eastern provinces, of building pioneer roads in one direction, 
replacing these after a time by macadamized roads following 
a different route, and finally abandoning these for a railway 
laid upon a third route. 

1 1 can scarcely hope ', concludes Fleming, ' that the plan 
of gradual development herein advocated will satisfy the 
precipitate or the impatient, — those, in fact, who would urge 
the immediate construction of the road, regardless or igno- 
rant of the cost and the burdens it might in consequence entail 
on the country ; yet there are many who, remembering the 
tortoise in the fable, will perceive that a slow yet certain 
movement will accomplish the desired end with as much 
certainty and perhaps more satisfactorily than if the work 
was undertaken with the most sanguine hopes of speedy 
achievement. It is very doubtful, however, if any one will 
on reflection assert that there is really a choice of methods, 
that is to say, a fast and a slow one. The line of artificial 
highway proposed to be constructed extends over not less 
than forty-five degrees of longitude, equal to one-eighth of 
the length of a circle of latitude passing entirely around the 
globe ; the undertaking therefore becomes one of no ordinary 


magnitude, and when in connexion with it half a continent 
has to be redeemed in part at least from a state of wild 
nature, some considerable length of time must necessarily 
be occupied in the process. Even if it should take a quarter 
of a century, it would be equal to an average construction 
of one hundred miles of railway a year, as well as the annual 
introduction of one hundred thousand emigrants. And, 
after all, a quarter of a century is but a brief period in the 
history of a country ; half that length of time has already 
elapsed since the railways of Canada were first commenced, 
and yet many are of opinion that it would have been better, 
in some respects, had only one-half the extent of existing 
lines been yet constructed. As the character of the work 
is so colossal, and the condition of the country such as to 
debar the idea of undertaking the construction of a railway 
through it in the usual way and as an ordinary commercial 
enterprise, I am emboldened to think that such a scheme 
as I have endeavoured to sketch might form the basis of 
a system possessing many recommendations, and which it 
is confidently believed might be advantageously adopted in 
any attempt to establish a great leading highway through 
the vast unoccupied territory between the settlements of 
Canada and British Columbia/ 

Having brought the memorial of the people of the Red 
River settlement to the attention of the Government of John 
Sandfield Macdonald, and supported it by his own carefully 
thought-out proposals ; and having also, by request, sub- 
mitted the whole matter to the Governor-General, Lord 
Monck ; Fleming, in accordance with his promise to the 
petitioners, sailed for England to lay the scheme before the 
Imperial Government. 

The Duke of Newcastle was then Colonial Secretary, and 
when the matter was brought to his attention he at once 
sent for Fleming. The latter called at the hotel where the 
Duke of Newcastle had his apartments, and finding a flunkey 
in gorgeous livery in the hall, supposed him to be one of the 
servants of the Colonial Minister, and asked if the Duke 
was at home. 


* Which duke ? ' demanded the resplendent being, in a 
lofty voice. ' My duke is in Norway/ 

Fleming meekly explained that he sought the Duke of 
Newcastle, and that he had not thought that dukes were 
quite so plentiful. The haughty representative of the 
absent duke condescended to point the way to the apart- 
ments of the Duke of Newcastle, and after encountering 
another overpowering doorkeeper, Fleming finally man- 
aged to have his card sent in. Somewhat to his surprise, 
for he was now prepared for any sort of a rebuff, he was 
at once admitted, and found himself in the presence of a 
quiet, unassuming gentleman, who welcomed him cordially, 
and listened with sympathetic attention to all that he 
had to say in regard to the Red River colonists and their 
plea for transportation facilities. In his questions and 
comments, both in reference to this and to other matters 
in Canada, the duke revealed himself as a keen and intelligent 
student of public affairs. He had made good use of his 
time while travelling through Canada with the Prince of 
Wales three years before, and since his return had kept in 
close touch with the progress of events on the other side of 
the Atlantic. 

In so far as its immediate object was concerned, Fleming's 
mission to England bore no direct fruit. It was after all 
rather a matter for the Canadian than the Imperial Govern- 
ment, and the Canadian Government was not yet alive to 
the vital importance of transportation facilities in the 
development of that wonderful hinterland beyond the Great 
Lakes. Indirectly, however, this mission had results of 
far-reaching importance, involving both the transportation 
problem in Canada, and also Fleming's own life. It is not 
too much to say that the visit to the Duke of Newcastle 
was the turning-point in his career. How this came about 
will be seen in the next chapter. 



Fleming returned to Canada in 1863 on the then famous 
steamship Great Eastern sailing for New York. Most of the 
passengers were citizens of the United States, and as the 
Fourth of July found them in mid-ocean it was decided to 
celebrate the day in as imposing a fashion as the circum- 
stances would permit. The principal event was a procession 
around the decks, in which all the passengers were to take 
part. Knowing that Fleming was a British subject, the 
organizers of the parade came to him and suggested that it 
would be a graceful act if he would agree to carry the United 
States flag at the head of the procession. 

* I was at the moment *, he says, ' in conversation with 
a very agreeable gentleman, an American, whose acquain- 
tance I had made in London. On the spur of the moment 
I turned to the deputation and said I should be delighted to 
carry the flag they referred to or any flag, provided my 
friend would agree to support me by carrying the British 
flag, and that we would march at the head of the procession. 
It was so agreed, and I went off to one of the ship's officers 
and arranged with him that my friend was to be equipped 
with the very largest British flag available, while I was to 
have the smallest American flag on the ship. 

1 The flags were kept out of sight until the procession was 
about to start on its triumphant march, and then off we 
went with the steward's brass band in front, my companion 
(who was a true sportsman) almost buried under the folds 
of seven yards of Union Jack, while I marched beside him 
waving a diminutive edition of the Stars and Stripes about 
the size of a pocket-handkerchief. 

1 Some twenty years afterwards I happened to be in St. 
Paul, Minnesota, and was delighted to find my friend of the 
Great Eastern once more in the person of the mayor of that 


city. He was kind enough to invite a number of friends to 
meet me at dinner, when he told them, much to their enjoy- 
ment, the story of our Fourth of July celebration in mid- 

Fleming had not long arrived at his home in Toronto 
before he received an urgent message from the Premier, 
John Sandfield Macdonald, to come down to Quebec, then 
the seat of government. Arrived there, he was informed by 
Mr. Macdonald that, in accordance with an arrangement 
made with the Imperial and other Governments concerned, 
it had been decided to carry out at once preliminary surveys 
for the proposed Intercolonial Railway between Quebec 
and the maritime colonies of New Brunswick and Nova 
Scotia. The surveys were to be entrusted to a commission 
of three engineers, one appointed by the united provinces of 
Upper Canada and Quebec, one jointly by Nova Scotia and 
New Brunswick, and the third by the Imperial Government. 
Mr. Macdonald added that he (Fleming) was the nominee of 

No sooner was this decision communicated to the Govern- 
ments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick than Dr. Tupper 
representing the former and Mr. Tilley representing the 
latter agreed that Fleming should also be their nominee. 
The Imperial Government was informed of the joint appoint- 
ment, and in October 1863 the following dispatch was 
received by the Governor-General from the Duke of New- 
castle : ' The character of Mr. Sandford Fleming ... is so 
unexceptionable . . . that I am quite ready to avail myself of 
his services as the representative of the Imperial Govern- 
ment. Your Lordship will accordingly be pleased to appoint 
Mr. Fleming at once to the situation. It is agreeable to me 
to feel that by selecting Mr. Fleming as the combined repre- 
sentative of Her Majesty's Government and of the North 
American Provinces specially interested in this important 
subject much delay has been avoided, and that the wishes of 
your Government for the immediate commencement of the 
survey have, so far as this appointment is concerned, been 
complied with.' 


As the result therefore of a combination of circumstances, 
fortunate alike for the Governments interested and for the 
engineer who was to carry out this very important work, 
Fleming combined in his own person the commission en- 
trusted with the survey of a route for the Intercolonial 

Before describing the progress of this undertaking, it may 
be well to give a brief account of the movement for the con- 
struction of a railway to connect Nova Scotia and New 
Brunswick with what was known as the Province of Canada, 
or rather, before 1841, as the Provinces of Upper and Lower 
Canada. According to the late George Johnson, for many 
years Dominion Statistician, the movement dates back to the 
year 1827, when in the little town of St. Andrews, New 
Brunswick, the project of a railway from that place to the 
city of Quebec was first mooted. The first passenger railway 
in the world, the Stockton and Darlington line, built by 
George Stephenson, had been opened two years before, and 
the railway fever had crossed the Atlantic and among other 
communities had taken possession of this ambitious town 
on the Bay of Fundy. But the fever did not run very high, 
or perhaps the time was not ripe for its development. It is 
recorded that a public meeting was called in St. Andrews by 
one John Wilson, in 1828, to discuss the question, and then 
nothing more is heard of a railway until 1832, when Henry 
Fairbairn revived the project in an article in the United 
Service Journal. 

' I propose ', he said, ' first to form a railway for wagons, 
from Quebec to the harbour of St. Andrews upon the Bay 
of Fundy, a work which will convey the whole trade of the 
St. Lawrence in a single day to the Atlantic waters. . . . Thus 
the timber, provisions, ashes, and other exports of the Pro- 
vinces may be brought to the Atlantic not only with more 
speed, regularity, and security than by the River St. Law- 
rence, but with the grand additional advantage of a navi- 
gation open at all seasons of the year ; the harbour of St. 
Andrews being capacious, deep, and never closed in the 
winter season, whilst the St. Lawrence is unnavigable from 


ice from the month of November to May. . . . Another great 
line of railways may be formed from Halifax through Nova 
Scotia to St. John in the Province of New Brunswick, and 
thence into the United States, joining the railways which 
are fast spreading through that country. . . . This railway will 
not only bring to the Atlantic the lumber, provisions, metal, 
and other exports of the provinces, but from the situation 
of the harbour of Halifax ... it will doubtless command the 
whole stream of passengers, mails, and light articles of com- 
merce passing into the British possessions and to the United 
States and every part of the continent of America/ 

Mr. Fairbairn then proceeded to set forth, with remarkable 
prevision, the vital importance of railways to the develop- 
ment of the North American continent. 

* Indeed,' he said, ' if the difficulties and expense of con- 
structing these works in our North American colonies were 
tenfold greater, an imperative necessity would exist for their 
adoption, if it is desired by the Government of this country 
to maintain an equality of commercial advantages with the 
neighbouring United States. For the splendid advantages of 
the railway system are well understood in that country, where 
great navigable rivers are about to be superseded by rail- 
ways of vast magnitude reaching over hundreds of miles. . . . 
Indeed, in no other country will the results of the railway 
system be so extensive as in the United States, for it will 
annihilate their only disadvantage, inland distance from the 
sea ; and it will effect the work of centuries to connect, con- 
solidate, and strengthen that giant territory, lying beneath 
all climates and spreading over a quarter of the globe. If 
then we would contend with these advantages in our North 
American Provinces, it is only by similar works that we can 
bring to the Atlantic the agricultural exports of the Colonies, 
and secure the stream of emigration, which otherwise with 
the facility of inland transportation will be rapidly diverted 
to the western regions of the United States/ 

This article reawakened the dormant interest of St. 
Andrews ; a meeting was called in October 1835, at which 
resolutions advocating a line of railway between St. Andrews 


and Quebec were unanimously carried ; the support of 
the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Sir Archibald 
Campbell, was sought and obtained ; a deputation was sent to 
Quebec, where resolutions favourable to the undertaking were 
adopted in December by both Houses of the Legislature ; 
and early in the following year negotiations were opened with 
the Imperial Government with the view of securing financial 
assistance. In March 1836, the House of Assembly of Nova 
Scotia endorsed the project ; and the same month a Bill 
passed the Legislature of New Brunswick incorporating the 
' St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad Company \ Meantime 
the feasibility of the proposed railway had been established 
by an exploration of the route designed to be followed ; and 
a grant of £10,000 was obtained from the Home Government 
for a more careful survey. This work was entrusted to 
Captain Yule, R.E., whose report was entirely favourable. 

Everything seemed to be moving smoothly, when the whole 
project was brought to a standstill by the opposition of the 
United States Government, on whose behalf representations 
were made to the British Government to the effect that the 
proposed railway would run through disputed territory. As 
a result of these representations orders were received from 
England to discontinue all proceedings for the construction 
of the railway until the points in dispute had been settled. 
These points involved the boundary between New Brunswick 
and Maine, and it took several years to bring them to a final 
settlement. Unfortunately, when the Ashburton Treaty was 
signed in 1842 it was found that the country west of the 
St. John River through which Captain Yule had made his 
railway survey in 1837 na cl been ceded to the United States, 
and the project was therefore indefinitely postponed. 

The Ashburton Treaty had driven a wedge of foreign terri- 
tory into the heart of the country lying between New Bruns- 
wick and Canada ; a direct line of railway between St. 
Andrews, or even St. John, and the city of Quebec, was no 
longer possible. It became necessary to consider other routes, 
and about 1845 a project was set on foot for a line between 
Halifax and Quebec. This scheme at once gained substantial 


support on both sides of the Atlantic, among others who were 
induced to take an interest in it being Sir Richard Broun, 
who was endeavouring to organize a colonization company 
in connexion with the revival of the rights of the Baronetage 
of Nova Scotia, and who was also interested in the ambitious 
project of a continuous line of steam navigation and railways 
through British North America to connect Great Britain with 
Japan, China, and India. 

Several routes were proposed for the railway. One followed 
the line of a suggested military road from Halifax by way of 
Truro, the bend of the Petitcodiac, Boiestown, Grand Falls 
and Lake Temiscouata. Another, starting from Canso, 
joined the first-mentioned line at Truro. A third, starting 
at Halifax, ran to Annapolis, with a line of steamers across 
the Bay of Fundy from Annapolis to St. John, and then pro- 
ceeded up the St. John River to Fredericton and Boiestown. 
And a fourth, taking the last-mentioned route to Fredericton, 
followed the west bank of the St. John River to Grand Falls. 

Lord Falkland, then Governor of Nova Scotia, urged upon 
the British Government the desirability of testing the practi- 
cability of the scheme and determining the best route by 
means of an accurate survey, to be carried out by competent 
military and civil engineers. As the result of these repre- 
sentations Mr. Gladstone gave instructions, in June 1846, to 
Captain Pipon and Lieutenant Henderson, of the Royal 
Engineers, to survey three lines : (1) From Halifax to some 
port on the Bay of Fundy whence steamer connexion could 
be made to St. John, thence to Fredericton and Grand Falls, 
thence by way of Lake Temiscouata to the mouth of the 
Riviere du Loup, and thence by the south bank of the St. 
Lawrence to Levis opposite Quebec. (2) From Halifax to 
the bend of the Petitcodiac, thence in a practically direct line 
to Grand Falls, and thence as before described to the St. 
Lawrence. (3) From Halifax to the bend of the Petitcodiac, 
thence keeping to the north-west of Newcastle and Chaleur 
Bay, or its vicinity, to the St. Lawrence. 

As a result of these surveys, in the course of which Major 
Robinson of the Royal Engineers replaced Captain Pipon, 


who was drowned in the Restigouche in an attempt to save 
the life of a boy in his party, a report was submitted in 
August 1848 recommending a route from Halifax to Truro 
passing over the Cobequid Mountains, thence by the gulf 
shore to the Miramichi River which would be crossed at the 
head of tide, thence proceeding by the Nipissiguit River to 
Chaleur Bay and along the coast to the mouth of the Meta- 
pedia, proceeding up the valley of the Metapedia to the 
vicinity of the St. Lawrence, and thence along the south 
shore to Riviere du Loup and Levis. The estimate for the 
line was, in round numbers, £5,000,000. 

This report of Major Robinson gave a renewed impetus to 
the project. It was discussed and approved in the various 
provincial legislatures, and an earnest effort was made to 
induce the Home Government to grant financial aid, the 
united resources of the three provinces being insufficient to 
carry through a work of such proportions. The demands on 
the Imperial treasury were, however, too numerous and 
pressing in 1849 to admit of any measure being submitted to 
Parliament for the aid required. 

The project therefore remained stationary for a time, but 
it was widely discussed in the newspapers and was the subject 
of a number of pamphlets, notably that of Major Carmichael- 
Smyth in 1849, i* 1 which was advocated the utilization of the 
surplus labour of the United Kingdom in the construction 
not merely of a railway from Halifax to Quebec but of one 
from Halifax to the Pacific coast. 

In 185 1, through the eloquent plea of Joseph Howe, the 
Premier of Nova Scotia, the British Government seemed 
at last awake to the Imperial importance of the proposed 
railway. The Colonial Secretary in a letter to Howe laid 
stress on the ' strong sense entertained by the British 
Government of the extreme importance, not only to the 
Colonies directly interested but to the Empire at large, of 
providing for the construction of a railway by which a line 
of communication may be established on British territory 
between the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and 
Canada \ The Imperial Government was now prepared 


to guarantee the interest on the cost of construction, but 
another difficulty appeared. New Brunswick and Nova 
Scotia were not merely interested in the project of a railway 
from Halifax to Quebec, but they were also interested in 
one from Halifax through St. John to Portland, Maine; 
indeed, New Brunswick had already promised substantial 
financial support to the latter line. They asked that the 
Imperial guarantee should cover this line also, from Halifax 
to the international boundary ; but the Colonial Secretary 
replied that it would be impossible to ask Parliament to 
pledge the credit of the United Kingdom for any object 
which was not of importance to the Empire as a whole. 

It is impracticable here to trace the rather intricate history 
of the Intercolonial Railway project throughout the next 
decade. It will be sufficient to say that as the Provincial 
Legislatures and the Imperial Government found it impos- 
sible to reach common ground, the former determined to go 
ahead at their own expense with the construction of such 
railways as were most urgently required. In this, however, 
the three .provinces, Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova 
Scotia, acted quite independently, without any unity of plan. 
The result was that while between 1852 and 1862 many miles 
of railway were built the general project of the Intercolonial 
was by no means correspondingly advanced. Finally the 
provinces once more entered into negotiations with the Home 
Government, and it was eventually agreed that the Imperial 
Parliament should be asked to guarantee a loan of £3,000,000 
for the Intercolonial Railway subject to certain stipulations, 
among others that as a preliminary step surveys should be 
carried out and the line proposed to be followed submitted to 
and approved by Her Majesty's Government. These are the 
surveys which, as already mentioned, the British and Colonial 
Governments agreed to entrust to Sandford Fleming. 

Early in 1864 he left Quebec for Riviere du Loup, at that 
time the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway, to commence 
in the depth of winter a reconnaissance of the country. His 
task was to carry a survey south-easterly from Riviere du 
Loup through two hundred miles of broken, elevated country, 


covered by a dense forest, destitute of settlements or roads, 
to the existing railway connecting St. John and Shediac, 
a small town on the Straits of Northumberland. From 
Moncton, on this line, the second section of the survey would 
run to Truro, the then terminus of the Nova Scotia Railway, 
through the Cobequid Mountains. The Chief Engineer and 
his assistants had to travel on snow-shoes through this wilder- 
ness, and what could not be carried on dog-sleds had to be 
borne on men's backs. Provisions, instruments, and equip- 
ment, everything in fact, had to be transported in this 
primitive fashion, and what was not absolutely indispensable 
was of necessity left behind. Spartan simplicity marked the 
lives of those engaged on the Intercolonial surveys. Reading 
between the brief lines of his diary, jotted down hastily at 
the end of a hard day's travel, one gets some idea of the 
circumstances under which Sandford Fleming pushed this 
survey through from the St. Lawrence to Nova Scotia. Some 
thrifty official at Quebec had provisioned the parties with 
canned meat left over from the Crimea. Many a time the 
surveyors must have wished that it had been providentially 
sunk in the Black Sea. Fortunately the country sometimes 
afforded fish and small game, with an occasional moose, to 
break the monotony of the dubious rations of the army 

The first Sunday was spent at Riviere du Loup, and the 
Chief Engineer with most of his assistants went to the little 
Episcopal Church and listened to an edifying sermon. When 
it came to the usual time for a collection, the worthy old 
rector, seeing an unusual number of people in the pews, 
beckoned to his churchwardens and retired with them behind 
a screen, which did duty for the vestry. The rector was 
somewhat deaf, and the conversation was therefore quite 
audible to the waiting congregation, which consisted prin- 
cipally of the members of the survey party. It appeared that 
the collection was not an invariable feature of the services in 
this little church, being regarded apparently by the regular 
attendants as largely a work of supererogation, but on the 
present occasion the rector made it clear that it might be 


proper to give the strangers an opportunity of helping along 
the good work of the parish. The wardens were dubious, 
but the rector somewhat insistent. Finally one of the wardens 
thrust his head around the screen and had a good look at 
Fleming and his men. Red flannel shirts, homespun trousers, 
and rough boots ! One glance was enough. His expression 
would have told them at once that they had been examined 
and foimd wanting, but his audible whisper to the rector put 
the matter beyond all possible doubt. There was no collection 
that day. 

From Riviere du Loup Fleming made his way to St. Flavie, 
familiar to present-day travellers on the Intercolonial as the 
welcome point at which the dining-car is taken on the train. 
From here he walked on snowshoes to Lake Metapedia, with 
one Alexander Fraser of Pictou. They had small dog-sleds 
to carry their supplies drawn by three faithful dogs, Gaspe, 
Bruce, and Wallace, Fleming's companions on many a long 
journey. A hard day's travel brought them to the north end 
of Lake Metapedia, but a supper of trout and partridge, with 
a smoke and a chat afterward with an old Scotch settler, 
made up for much discomfort. The next day they arrived 
at the forks of the Metapedia. 

• Left at 7 o'clock,' says the diary, ' after breakfast on 
moose muffle and pancakes. Beautiful sunny morning. 
Down valley of Metapedia. Sleigh broke down ; left it 
behind. Arrived at Evans' shanty at noon ; travelled n 
miles. Evans' shanty say 20 by 15, walls 3 feet high. Con- 
tains family, a horse (the first we have seen since Metis), 
cocks, hens, and everything living about the establishment ; 
home-made furniture, and a spinning wheel. On to mouth of 
Metapedia, over difficult ground. Journey to-day 33 miles/ 

Another day brought them to Dalhousie, where the night 
was spent with David Saddler, a surveyor. Saddler had been 
through the terrible Miramichi fire of 1825 and could still 
recall the days of horror when whole districts were swept 
clean of every living thing. For him, however, the fire had 
not been wholly disastrous. Fortune had enabled him to 
save from drowning a young woman who, with others of her 



family, had fled to the river as a last refuge. In good time 
she became his wife, and took her place at his own fireside. 

From Dalhousie the Chief Engineer drove to Bathurst and 
Newcastle, where he received a letter in connexion with the 
survey from Dr. Tupper, the Provincial Secretary of Nova 
Scotia. From Newcastle he travelled over to Fredericton to 
discuss the New Brunswick portion of the work with the 
Premier, S. L. Tilley. At the hotel in Fredericton he found 
an invitation from the Governor, Arthur Hamilton Gordon 
(afterward Lord Stanmore), to dine at Government House. 
Having nothing to wear but his grey homespun suit and red 
flannel shirt — the same that had so unfavourably impressed 
the churchwarden at Riviere du Loup — he begged to be 
excused. The Governor, however, would not hear of it, and 
urged him to come just as he was. * You can imagine ', says 
Fleming, ' the sensation I made when I entered the drawing- 
room at Government House, filled with ladies in wonderful 
toilets and officers in full dress uniform. However, I was 
given a charming companion to take in to dinner, and en- 
joyed myself immensely/ 

In Fredericton, then, as now, the capital of New Brunswick, 
the Chief Engineer had an opportunity of going over his plans 
with the members of the local government, and completing 
his arrangements for the various parties in the field. 

While there he had a visit one morning from a young man 
who introduced himself as Lord Haddo, and asked to be 
allowed to accompany one of the survey parties through the 
Tobique mountains. ' I immediately discouraged the idea/ 
says Fleming, ' pointing out to him that in travelling through 
such difficult and inaccessible country all provisions and 
supplies must be carried on men's backs, and that it would be 
impossible to take a traveller or sportsman with the party. 

* " But," he replied at once, " you misunderstand me. I am 
looking for work, not for game. Look at these hands," he 
said, holding them out to me. " You can see they are hard 
as nails. I have just come in from a lumberman's camp where 
I have been working and earning $14 a month and my board. 
I would be glad to get work on your survey, and I can serve 


as an axeman as well as any other fellow." " Oh," I said, 
"that is quite a different matter. If you are in earnest I can 
find you a place with one of the parties." I gave him a letter 
to one of the engineers, Mr. Tremaine, who was leaving 
Fredericton next morning. The same evening I left for 
Quebec by the way I had come. 

1 1 returned to New Brunswick by rail to Boston and the 
English mail steamer to Halifax. When I landed from the 
Boston steamer I was surprised to find Lord Haddo on the 
dock embarking for Liverpool. " Hullo ! " I said, " what 
are you doing here. I thought you were at the present 
moment working as an axeman on the survey in the Tobique 

' " I expected to be there," he said, " but the very day 
you left Fredericton the English mail arrived, and I learned 
of the death of my father, and must return at once to Scot- 
land." His father was the Earl of Aberdeen, and my young 
friend of the horny hands and the capacity for hard work 
had now succeeded to the title. 

1 He was a man of strong and original views, anxious to 
feel that he could make his own way in the world apart from 
the accident of birth, and anxious too to gain first-hand 
knowledge of the conditions that other men had to face in the 
new world. 

1 About a year after succeeding to the title he came out to 
New Brunswick again, and from there made his way to 
Gloucester, on the New England coast, where he joined the 
crew of a whaling-ship bound for the South Seas. From the 
day he sailed out of Gloucester harbour nothing was ever 
heard of him or of the ship and crew. The present Earl of 
Aberdeen, for some years Governor-General of Canada, 
was a younger brother of the man who went down in the 
Gloucester whaler.' 




The survey for the Intercolonial was divided into two 
sections, one extending south-easterly from the St. John- 
Shediac Railway then in operation to the town of Truro, at 
that time the terminus of the Nova Scotia Railway ; and the 
other north-westerly from the St. John-Shediac line to 
Riviere du Loup. 

By the opening of spring in 1864 a large staff of surveyors 
was engaged at various points between Riviere du Loup and 
Truro, and before the close of that year the country had been 
pretty well explored, and more than one practicable line 
established. In fact the report of the survey, made in 
February 1865, outlined no less than fifteen different routes, 
divided into three groups : Frontier, Central, and Bay 
Chaleur. The first, covering three several routes, ran close 
to the international boundary between New Brunswick and 
Maine. The second, including nine routes, traversed the 
central portion of New Brunswick. The third, embracing 
three routes, followed the Gulf side of the province. The 
distances, between Riviere du Loup and St. John, ranged all 
the way from 301 to 486 miles ; and between Riviere du Loup 
and Halifax, from 496 to 616 miles. 
y As the result of these surveys Fleming recommended one 
of the routes touching Chaleur Bay, which was subsequently 
adopted by the Government. In his historical sketch of the 
Intercolonial, published some years later, he reveals the same 
breadth of view that has marked his treatment of all the 
great national projects with which he has been connected. 

'The Bay Chaleur', he says, ' is not only nearly a hundred 
and fifty miles nearer than Halifax to Liverpool, but at the 
same time it is two hundred and sixty-six miles nearer Mon- 
treal than Halifax is. Consequently the selection of a port on 
the Bay Chaleur for ocean steamers would shorten the whole 
distance between Montreal and Liverpool fully four hundred 


miles. Even between Liverpool and New York, one hundred 
and sixty miles would be saved by commencing the ocean 
passage at the Bay Chaleur.' The day may yet come when 
Sandford Fleming's idea of a great ocean port on the Bay 
Chaleur will be an accomplished fact ; or in place of it, we 
may see the fruition of the still more daring project, which he 
also put forth at this time. 

' The consideration ', he says, ' of the shortest lines between 
America and Europe with reference more particularly to the 
conveyance of passengers and mails, pointed to the extension 
of the railway system across Newfoundland. The theory was 
advanced that there already existed, or that in all probability 
there soon would be, sufficient traffic to sustain a daily line 
of ocean steamers across the Atlantic. The idea of including 
Newfoundland in the scheme of intercommunication, and 
making a railway there, a continuation, as it were, of the Inter- 
colonial line, with the prospect of the Island becoming part of 
the Federal Union, may have appeared to be visionary. But 
nevertheless some advance has been made in that direction. 
In the ten years which have elapsed (since Confederation), 
Newfoundland has been awakened by the spirit of progress, 
and she more thoroughly understands the importance of her 
geographical position. Last year the interior of the Island, 
scarcely before trodden by the white man, and full of natural 
resources, was passed over by a large staff of engineers sent 
by her Government to examine the practicability of a railway 
from the extreme east to the extreme west. Another decade 
may record results such as the chronicler of to-day records of 
what has been effected by the Dominion in the last ten years.' 

In his report on the Intercolonial Surveys, made in 1865, 
eleven years before the above was written, Fleming had out- 
lined his scheme for a Short Ocean Passage. 

1 Newfoundland, a large island off the mainland of North 
America, and Ireland, an island off the European coast, 
resemble each other in being similar outlying portions of 
the continents to which they respectively belong. Possibly 
they may have a more important similarity and relationship, 
through the remarkable geographical position which they 


hold, the one to the other, and to the great centres of popula- 
tion and commerce in Europe and America 

'A glance at the chart of the Atlantic will show that between 
Ireland and Newfoundland the ocean can be spanned by the 
shortest line. . . . Were it possible to introduce the locomotive 
into Newfoundland and establish steam communication 
between it and the cities of America, a route would be created 
from continent to continent having the ocean passage reduced 
to a minimum. . . . 

' The track of steamers from the British coast to New 
York, and to all points north of New York, passes Ireland and 
Newfoundland, either to the north or to the south ; the most 
usual course, however, is to the south of both islands. 
Vessels bound westerly make for Cape Race on the south- 
easterly coast of Newfoundland ; whilst those bound easterly 
make Cape Clear on the south-westerly angle of Ireland. 
Not far from Cape Race is the Harbour of St. John's, and 
near Cape Clear is the Harbour of Valentia ; the one is the 
most easterly port of America, the other the most westerly 
port of Europe. They are distant from each other about 
1,640 miles.' 

An essential link in this scheme for a Short Ocean Passage 
was a line of railway from St. John's to St. George's Bay or 
Port au Port, on the Gulf side of the island. From thence, 
steamers would run to Shippigan, at the entrance to the 
Bay Chaleur, where a spur from the Intercolonial would give 
connexion with the railway systems of America. Such a 
combined rail and water route would, Fleming established, 
land passengers from London in New York in 171 hours, 
or a little over seven days. This was based on a speed of 
40 miles an hour on the British railways, 30 miles an hour on 
railways in America, and i6| miles an hour for the ocean 
passage. That was a reasonable estimate in 1865. To-day 
the same route would of course offer a very much quicker 
passage. In 1865 the mean average of all passages between 
Liverpool and Southampton and New York ranged from 
n days up to 13 days, 9 hours. The advantages in favour of 
the proposed Newfoundland route are obvious. 


The Short Ocean Passage was advocated particularly for 
the accommodation of mails and passengers. 'At the present 
time (1865) ocean steamers generally carry both freight and 
passengers, and in this respect they are like what are termed 
" mixed trains " on railways. These mixed trains are em- 
ployed to serve localities where there is not sufficient passenger 
and freight traffic to justify the running of separate trains. 

1 On railways doing a large business, the traffic is properly 
classified ; fast trains are run to carry passengers and mails 
only, whilst slow trains are used to convey heavy freight. 
A similar classification of ocean traffic may be suggested. 
Freight will naturally goby the cheapest mode of conveyance, 
while passengers and mails will seek the speediest. 

' It is well known that the shape of a steamship, other 
things being equal, governs her speed. The shape again 
depends upon the load she may be constructed to carry : if 
the ship is required only for mails and passengers and such 
voyages as require but a small quantity of fuel, she may be 
constructed on a model both sharp and light, and thus be 
capable of running more rapidly than if built to carry heavy 
and bulky loads. A steamship for heavy loads may be com- 
pared to a dray-horse, whilst one made specially for passengers 
and rapid transit may resemble a race-horse, and like the 
latter, the less weight carried the more speed will be made. 

1 If these views are correct, it is clear that the speed of ocean 
steamships might be considerably increased when constructed 
for a special purpose/ The modern ' ocean greyhound ', 
built for mails and passengers, is a remarkable justification 
of Sandford Fleming's prediction made half a century ago. 

On the point of safety, he shrewdly observes that ' the 
portion of a voyage between New York and Liverpool which 
seamen least fear is that from Ireland to Newfoundland. 
It is well known that the most dangerous part of the whole 
voyage is along the American coast between New York and 
Cape Race, where thick fogs so frequently prevail ; this 
coast line is about 1,000 miles in length, and it has been the 
scene of the larger number of the disasters which have 
occurred. . . . The route which favours increased security from 


sea-risks, and which is the shortest in point of time, must 
eventually become the cheapest, and in consequence the 
most frequented. . . . 

1 If, as it has been shown, this route would reduce the time 
between London and New York some three or four days, and 
bring Toronto one-third nearer Liverpool (in time) than New 
York is now ; if it would give the merchant in Chicago his 
English letters four or five days earlier than he has ever yet 
received them ; if it be possible by this proposed route to 
lift the mails in London and lay them down in New Orleans 
in less time than they have ever yet reached New York, then 
it surely possesses advantages which must eventually estab- 
lish it, not simply as an Intercolonial, but rather as an 
Intercontinental line of communication. 

' These are purely commercial considerations, and however 
important they may be as such, the statesman will readily 
perceive, in the project, advantages of another kind. It may 
be of some consequence to extend to Newfoundland, as well 
as to the other provinces of British America, the benefits of 
rapid intercommunication. It will probably accord with 
Imperial policy to foster the shipping of the Gulf, and to 
encourage the building up of such a fleet of swift steamers as 
a daily line across the ocean would require. It must surely 
be important to the Empire to secure in perpetuity the control 
of the great highway between the two continents. It must be 
equally her policy to develop the resources and promote the 
prosperity of these Colonies — and to bind more closely, by 
ties of mutual benefit, the friendly relationship which happily 
exists between the people on both sides of the Atlantic/ 

It may be noted here that Fleming was so convinced of the 
public advantages of his scheme, and particularly of one of 
the principal links — a railway across Newfoundland — that 
at his personal expense he employed a party of engineers to 
make a survey of the route between St. John's and the Gulf 
coast of the island. The route then surveyed was practically 
that afterwards adopted for the existing railway. 

It is singular enough that, with the almost feverish desire 
for quick transatlantic passages in the present age, and the 


popularity with many travellers of a route which reduces 
the ocean trip to a minimum, this route advocated by a 
Canadian engineer half a century ago has not yet been 
adopted. There is some reason for believing, however, that 
before many years have gone by, it will be possible to take 
a quick train from Montreal, or New York, to St. John's, New- 
foundland, and at St. John's or some other point board an 
ocean greyhound for the nearest port on the Irish coast — 
thus practically realizing Fleming's dream of a Short Ocean 

But to return to the Intercolonial. While the surveys 
were in progress, in 1864, a political movement of long 
standing, and far-reaching importance, was rapidly coming 
to a head. In September of that year representatives of 
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, 
met in Charlottetown, to enter into negotiations for the 
union of the Maritime Provinces. To this conference came 
eight members of the Government of the then Province of 
Canada, with instructions to urge the larger scheme of a 
confederation of British North America. The men of the 
upper provinces took the meeting by storm, and it was 
decided to hold an interprovincial conference at Quebec in 
October. To this convention came such prominent leaders 
as John A. Macdonald, Charles Tupper, George Brown, 
Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Leonard Tilley, A. T. Gait, Oliver 
Mowat, George E. Cartier, and Etienne Tache ; the famous 
Seventy-Two Resolutions were adopted ; the resolutions 
were submitted to and received the approval of the Imperial 
Government ; they were sanctioned by the provincial legis- 
latures ; the London conference met in 1866 and drafted the 
British North America Act, which was passed by the Imperial 
Parliament the following year ; and on July 1, 1867, the 
new Dominion of Canada became an accomplished fact. 
The sixty-eighth Resolution, adopted at Quebec, provided 
that ' the general Government shall secure, without delay, 
the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from River du 
Loup, through New Brunswick, to Truro in Nova Scotia ' ; 
and on April 12, 1867, the Imperial Parliament passed a Bill 


entitled, ' An Act for authorizing a guarantee of interest on 
a loan to be raised by Canada, towards the construction of 
a railway connecting Quebec and Halifax.' Under the Bill 
the funds for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway 
were provided, to the extent of £3,000,000 sterling. 

An incident in the history of Confederation which has 
never yet seen the light, and which is not without interest 
and significance, is the visit to St. John and Halifax of 
a party of Canadian legislators, in the summer of 1864, 
previous to the Chariot tetown convention. This momentous 
visit was suggested by Fleming, and mainly due to his 
personal efforts. The story of the incident cannot be better 
told than in his own words. 

' One of the men ', he says, c whose friendship I valued 
most highly was Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He was then 
Minister of Agriculture in the short-lived Tache-Macdonald 
administration, and occupied the same position in the suc- 
ceeding coalition ministry, up to the date of Confederation. 
I had many opportunities of meeting him in Quebec, which 
was then the seat of government, and we had long and inter- 
esting conversations on matters that were then occupying 
men's minds. He was a warm advocate of Confederation, 
and also took a deep interest in the projected Intercolonial 

1 1 remember one evening we were discussing the political 
situation in the Lower Provinces, and the attitude of the 
people there toward the scheme for a general union of 
British North America. He could not understand, and was 
somewhat impatient with, the indifference of many people 
in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to a project which 
appealed not only to his judgement, but also, by its very 
magnitude, to his quick Celtic imagination. 

1 " It seems to me ", I said, " that the great obstacle in the 
way of union is the fact that the people of the upper and 
lower provinces do not know one another, that they are in 
fact absolute strangers. I have been for some time moving 
from place to place in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 
and I know that there is as much ignorance there as to this 


province and its people as if it were the antipodes ; and I am 
not sure that the majority of the people here are any better 
off in their knowledge or lack of knowledge of the Maritime 
Provinces. There is, as you know, very little communica- 
tion, and practically no commerce, between Canada and 
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The business relations of 
the latter are far more with Boston and New York than with 
Quebec and Montreal. You who are inland know nothing 
of the people down by the sea, and they know nothing of 
you. How can there be much sympathy or enthusiasm for 
union under such circumstances ? ' 

' " I believe you are right/' he said. 

' "If ", I continued, " you want to bring them around to your 
views, you must go down amongst them and rub shoulders 
with them, talk with them, eat and drink with them. There 
is nothing like the brotherhood of knife and fork. Take 
some of your best men with you, and particularly take 
representatives of the press." 

' " That is a good idea," said McGee, " but how can it be 
managed ? " 

{ " I am going down in a few days," I replied, " and believe 
I can arrange it. If I send you a telegram, will you do the 
rest ? " 

1 " With all my heart," said he. 

' When I arrived in Halifax I saw Dr. Tupper, told him 
frankly of my talk with McGee and of the hopes we both 
entertained as to the happy results that might follow a social 
gathering of a number of representative men from the differ- 
ent colonies. " Now," said I, " the Canadian Parliament 
will rise in a few days. Could you not send an invitation to 
the Speaker, conveying to the members of the House an 
invitation to visit Nova Scotia ? " 

" I heartily agree with everything you have said," he 
replied. " I have no doubt that such a visit would result 
in a better understanding, and help along the movement 
toward the confederation of all the provinces ; but I do not 
quite see how it can be arranged, at the present moment. 
We must have some excuse for the invitation. If we were 


turning the sod of a new railway, or laying the foundation 
of a new building, it would be a simple matter to send an 
invitation to the legislature in Quebec to come down and 
take part in the ceremonies, but there is no such occasion at 
present, and I think the matter will have to stand for a 

1 I was disappointed, but not discouraged. If Nova 
Scotia would not take the matter in hand, there was still 
New Brunswick. That night I left for St. John, and arriving 
there, hunted up the only man I knew, a well-known local 
engineer. I told him what I had in mind. " I want some- 
one in authority here to telegraph an invitation to Quebec 
to come down and visit St. John. How can it be managed ? " 

1 " Easiest thing in the world," he replied cheerily. 
" Come with me and we will see the president of the Board 
of Trade ! " 

' The latter took the matter up with enthusiasm, and a 
telegram was sent the same day, on behalf of the Board of 
Trade, to the members of the Canadian Legislature, to pay 
a visit to St. John as soon as the House rose. I immediately 
sent a private telegram to D'Arcy McGee, asking him to see 
that the matter was not neglected. 

1 The following day I returned to Halifax, and told Dr. 
Tupper what had been done in St. John. 

1 " Oh," he said, " that entirely changes the situation. 
Now we can of course invite them to extend their visit to 
Halifax. I will have the president of the Board of Trade 
send a similar invitation." 

1 He was as good as his word, the invitation was sent, and, 
largely through D'Arcy McGee's influence and enthusiasm, 
a large and representative group of Canadian statesmen 
visited St. John and Halifax, where they were royally 
received. The Canadian representatives, and their hosts 
of the Maritime Provinces, found that they had much more 
in common than they had ever before imagined, — the press 
was well represented — and this social visit eventually had 
not a little to do with the successful outcome of the negotia- 
tions for Confederation/ 


At the beginning of this chapter, something was said as to 
the three routes, or rather three groups of routes, surveyed 
for the Intercolonial through New Brunswick ; and the 
final selection of one touching the Bay Chaleur. This 
question of the routes, and the economic, military, and 
political considerations that governed the choice, occupied 
most of Sandford Fleming's attention at this time, and 
became the subject-matter of several voluminous reports. 
Because of this, and the light it throws upon the peculiarly 
roundabout course of the Intercolonial, it may be well to 
give a brief account of the circumstances, as they are described 
by Fleming in his Historical Sketch of the Intercolonial. 

' The location of the line ', he says, ' being necessarily 
confined to British territory, it was forced to make a con- 
siderable detour, to avoid entering the State of Maine. Had 
no national considerations presented themselves, or had the 
boundary been laid down according to the Treaty of 1783, 
or even in accordance with the settlement proposed, and, 
to some extent, pressed by the United States some years 
prior to the Ashburton Treaty, there would have been no 
difficulty in securing a direct, eligible route. 

' The railway would in this case, in all probability, have 
followed the general course of the route surveyed by Captain 
Yule in 1837, as * ar as tne neighbourhood of the river 

St. John Owing to certain political influences Captain Yule 

was bound by his instructions to pass to the north of Mars 
Hill. Thus his line was deflected out of the direct course to 
the seaboard ; and it is highly probable that untrammelled 
he would have followed a shorter route. 

1 It is evident from an inspection of the map, and from the 
natural features of the country, that lines of railway might 
have been projected so as to bring Montreal within 380 miles 
of St. Andrews, 415 miles of St. John, and 650 miles of Hali- 
fax ; and that the distance from Quebec to St. Andrews 
need not have exceeded 250 miles — 67 miles less than to 
Portland. Fredericton, the seat of local government, would 
have been on the main line to Halifax, and distant from 
Montreal about 370 miles ; and these lines, moreover, would 


have been wholly within the limits of the Dominion, had the 
international boundary been traced according to the true 
spirit and intent of the Treaty of 1783. The distance 
between Montreal and Halifax might thus have been 
lessened nearly 200 miles. St. Andrews would have taken 
the place of Portland as the winter terminus of the Grand 
Trunk Railway, and would have commanded, together with 
St. John, a traffic now cut off from both places, and centred 
at a foreign port. . . . 

1 If, under such circumstances, an Intercolonial line to 
connect the cities of the Maritime Provinces with those 
of the St. Lawrence had been constructed, the building 
of 250 miles of railway representing an expenditure of 
$10,000,000 would have been unnecessary. Great as this 
saving would have been, the economy in working it and in 
maintenance would have been more important. The direct 
line would also have attracted certain branches of traffic 
which by the longer route must either be carried at a loss 
or be repelled. These considerations render the difference 
in favour of the direct line incalculable, and cause the more 
regret that the treaty made by Lord Ashburton, which ceded 
British territory equal in size to two of the smaller States 
of the Union, rendered such a direct line through British 
territory for ever impossible/ 

The contest at first was mainly between the Frontier 
route and the Gulf or Northern route. It soon became 
apparent, however, that military considerations put the 
former out of the running, and the decision narrowed down 
to the Central and Northern routes. The only argument 
of any weight advanced on behalf of the Central route was 
that it would secure a larger amount of through freight to 
St. John as a shipping port. On the other hand, it was 
urged that the Central route had nothing in its favour which 
the Northern route had not, and that the latter possessed 
many special advantages over the Central and every other 
route. It would pass through much well-settled country 
including several important towns and villages ; would 
traverse many outlets by which lumber was brought down 


from the interior ; a considerable trade in grain and manu- 
factures was to be anticipated ; and the fishing industry 
would be encouraged. But behind every other considera- 
tion was the governing factor of national defence. The 
Northern route * would undoubtedly fulfil the national object 
for which the scheme was first originated — the creation of 
a safe military road not open to sudden assault either by 
land or sea \ Finally the Chief Engineer, after examining 
the arguments advanced in favour of each route, placed on 
record his opinion that beyond a doubt the line by the Bay 
Chaleur was the route to be adopted. 

A minor controversy was also carried on for some time as 
to the route the railway should follow in Nova Scotia, but 
in this case the considerations were merely those of con- 
venience and of serving the interests of certain mining 
districts near the Cobequid mountains. Six routes were 
examined and reported upon, and it was finally decided 
by the Chief Engineer that the one crossing the Cobequid 
mountains by the pass at Folly Lake and descending the 
northern slope of the hills to Amherst would best accommo- 
date all interests, 'having primary regard to general in- 
terests '. Moved by certain local interests, however, the 
Government adopted a combination of this and another 

1 Thus ', says Fleming, ' the controversy was ended ; and 
hence arose that gigantic and conspicuous sweep which the 
railway traveller will observe on the southern flank of the 
Cobequid mountains, where the line describes nearly half 
a complete circle. So marked is this feature in the location 
that the popular voice has applied to it the term, " The 
Grecian Bend/' which possibly may be retained so long as 
the railway endures/ 



Fleming had taken his family to Halifax in 1864, when 
he assumed charge of the Intercolonial surveys, and he made 
his home there for the next five years. In 1869 the need of 
keeping in closer touch with the Government induced him 
to move to Ottawa, where he built ' Winterholme \ The 
delightful summer climate of Halifax, however, had capti- 
vated him, and before moving to Ottawa he had purchased 
from Samuel Cunard and others an ideally situated property 
on the North-west Arm. Here he built himself a summer 
home, ' The Dingle,' and here year after year when he could 
do so he escaped for a time from the stress of work and found 
rest and solace beside the waters of the Atlantic. From 
time to time he added to the property, and many years after- 
ward reduced it again so that he might present a portion 
to Halifax as a public park and provide a site for the Me- 
morial Tower dedicated by the Duke of Connaught in 1913. 
But this is getting too far ahead. 

While the location surveys for the Intercolonial were still 
in progress in 1868, the Canadian Government directed the 
Chief Engineer to prepare plans and specifications for the con- 
struction of the railway. These were submitted to the Privy 
Council in November of that year, and with some minor 
amendments were adopted. Tenders were immediately called 
for the work. About the same time the Government ap- 
pointed four Commissioners to assume the management of 
the railway. 

At the first meeting between the Commissioners and their 
chief executive officer a sharp divergence of opinion appeared. 
Fleming had recommended that all the bridges along the 
line of railway should be of iron. The Commissioners were 
resolved that they should be of wood. The Chief Engineer, 


also, had recommended that the work of construction of the 
railway should be by measurement and price, as a schedule 
contract. The Commissioners, on the other hand, were 
persuaded that each section should be let at a bulk sum for 
the whole, and not by a schedule of prices, and insisted on 
putting this plan before the Government. Their view was that 
the contractor for each section should be held to complete the 
work for the amount of his tender, without advance of price 
for increase of work, or any deduction for diminution thereof. 

Fleming contended that ' the knowledge of the work 
required on any section was insufficient to admit of letting 
the work for a bulk sum ; that no contractor could exactly 
understand the extent of the obligation which he was assum- 
ing ; and that contracts let on this system, as matters 
then were, would certainly end unsatisfactorily ; and that 
difficulties would arise to perplex the engineers, the Com- 
missioners, and finally, the Government. He also pointed 
out that all contracts should only be let on known data, but 
that if it were deemed advisable to commence construction 
before the measurements were completed, and the exact 
quantities established, the principle of measurement and 
schedule price should be adopted. A contractor would then 
perfectly understand that he would only be paid at the 
prices in his tender for all the work which he performed, 
and for that only.' The Commissioners were sustained by 
the Government, but the result justified the contention of 
the Chief Engineer. ' Before the expiration of twelve 
months, five out of the seven contracts had to be annulled 
and relet at a large advance.' 

The ' battle of the bridges ', as it has been called, had 
a somewhat different conclusion. * The position ', says 
Fleming, ' was one of difficulty. The Chief Engineer was 
desirous of avoiding all cause of difference with the Com- 
missioners, but his deliberate opinion was on record. The 
ground assumed by him had not been lightly taken, and the 
more the subject was considered by him, the more convinced 
he felt of the correctness of the principles of construction 
which he had advocated. No argument, however, which he 



could advance, appeared to have the least weight with the 
Commissioners. They had determined to make certain 
changes ; that the recommendations of the Chief Engineer 
should be set aside ; and that iron should not be used, but 
that timber should take its place/ 

Fleming put the case before the Premier, Sir John Mac- 
donald ; the Commissioners submitted their side ; and the 
net result was that the latter were sustained. Five bridges, 
however, were exempted from the timber principle. The 
following year, 1870, the Chief Engineer returned to the 
attack with characteristic Scottish pertinacity. He sub- 
mitted, for Parliament, an elaborate statement, embodying 
the arguments in favour of iron bridges, the cost, and the 
ultimate economy. The Commissioners held to their 
former opinion ; that is to say, the majority did ; one came 
over to the Chief Engineer's side. Their decision in favour 
of wooden bridges was again approved by the Privy Council. 
In July Fleming wrote a further letter to the Premier, and 
in August to the Commissioners. One of them, Mr. Brydges, 
replied in a communication to the Privy Council, disputing 
the figures of the Chief Engineer and arguing that the fear 
of wooden bridges catching fire was groundless. The Chief 
Engineer rejoined by proving conclusively the accuracy of 
his figures, and by citing two distinct cases of wooden bridges 
on the Grand Trunk Railway, under the management of 
Mr. Brydges, having been destroyed by fire within a few 
weeks of the date of his letter. The Commissioners finally 
surrendered at discretion, agreeing that all bridges over 
sixty feet span should be of iron. Even this, however, did 
not quite satisfy the Chief Engineer. He persisted in his 
efforts to have every bridge on the Intercolonial, down to the 
smallest span of twenty-four feet, made of iron ; and at last 
an Order in Council was passed, in May 187 1, to have them 
so constructed. ' With the exception ', dryly remarks 
Fleming, ' of three structures, built of wood by direction of 
the Commissioners, against the protest of the Chief Engineer, 
all the bridge spans, of whatever width, throughout the line, 
have the superstructure of iron/ 


Too much space may seem to have been given to a dispute 
over technicalities, but the incident is illuminating as to 
the qualities in Fleming that made for success. Time and 
again, throughout his long life, he has had to face a situation 
in which his own deliberate judgement has been opposed 
either by those who happened to be his official superiors, or 
by that unwieldy master which we call the public. Once 
firmly convinced that he was right, however, he never sur- 
rendered ; and in most cases he won out, though the battle 
might be long and stubbornly contested. It may be worth 
noting, too, that the building of railways was still in its 
infancy in 1870 ; that the Chief Engineer of the Intercolonial 
was somewhat in advance of his times ; and that his views 
have since been completely vindicated. 

But while devoting most of his time and thought to the 
gigantic task of building the Intercolonial, and thereby 
binding together the scattered provinces of British North 
America, Fleming was too broad a man to allow even this 
important work to absorb all of his energies. He still 
maintained his interest in the Canadian Institute ; and even 
found time to join the militia. It will be remembered that 
in 1861 he had been instrumental in organizing the 10th 
Royals in Toronto. Five years later, while living in 
Halifax, the threatened Fenian raid from the State of 
Maine caused some apprehension, and Fleming immediately 
volunteered as a private in one of the regiments. The men 
were called out, and reviewed by Sir Hastings Doyle, at 
Halifax, but the threatened invasion petered out, and the 
Chief Engineer laid down his rifle for more peaceful pursuits. 

In 1864 Fleming had been appointed Chief Railway 
Engineer by the Government of Nova Scotia, and among 
other projects in the province he was charged with the 
building of a line of railway from Truro to Pictou. The 
policy of the Government, of constructing the road by 
a system of small contracts, did not work well, and toward 
the end of 1865 the Government in desperation appealed to 
Fleming to complete the undertaking, offering him a free 
hand as to the method. Legal and official difficulties arose, 



however. Among others, it appeared that the provincial 
statute prescribed that the railway should be built under 
contract. The Government was at its wits' end. It was of 
the utmost importance that the line should be completed 
by the end of May 1867, and the only man who seemed 
competent to undertake it was the Chief Engineer. Finally, 
Fleming was sent for, and asked if he would consent to resign 
his office and carry out under contract what he had so far 
accomplished as the official engineer. This was an entirely 
novel proposition, and one that demanded careful thought. 
Considerable capital would be required ; the work involved 
was difficult, presenting a number of serious problems ; and 
the date fixed for completion left very little time within 
which to carry it out. However, Sandford Fleming was 
equal to the task, and entered into a contract with the 
Government to build the railway within the specified time, 
for a specific sum, which sum by the way was $100,000 less 
than the original estimate made and submitted by himself 
the previous year as Chief Engineer. 

His mettle in this new role of contractor was severely 
tested. With not much more than a year to complete the 
work, favourable weather and other conditions were of 
supreme importance. Unfortunately the summer of 1866 
was ' unparalleled in this province for rain \ Also Fleming 
had certain very definite notions as to how a railway should 
be built, and now that the opportunity was thrust upon him, 
and the responsibility rested upon his own shoulders, he 
determined to construct a road that would be a credit both 
to himself and the province. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to say that, having undertaken 
a public work, and conscientiously striving to do it worthily, 
Fleming was bitterly assailed both in the legislature and in 
the newspapers of Nova Scotia, his motives, his honesty, his 
methods, the character of his work, all being called in ques- 
tion. With wise self-control, he made no answer to his critics 
until May 31, 1867. That was the day appointed for the 
completion of the Pictou Railway, and on that very day, in 
spite of all difficulties and handicaps, the railway was opened 


for public use. On that same day, also, Fleming issued his 
first and only reply to his critics, in the form of a pamphlet, 
containing letters and reports, written by engineers of inter- 
national reputation, who had personally inspected the rail- 
way, and gave their opinions thereon in unmistakable 
terms. The work, which the local critics had damned root 
and branch, is described by the engineers as ' the finest half- 
hundred miles of railway in British North America \ 

In the late autumn of 1866, Fleming was invited to dine 
with the Governor, Sir William Fenwick Williams. Admiral 
Hope and several of his officers were also of the party. After 
dinner, the Governor expressed a wish to see a new steam 
shovel at work on the railway near Halifax. It was a very 
stormy day, with a horrible mixture of snow and rain, and 
the Governor with some of the officers presently found dis- 
cretion the better part of valour. But the admiral was 
game. ' I'm going, any way ', said he. So off they started, 
the admiral and his officers enveloped in oilskins. In spite 
of these, they were all soaked to the skin, but thoroughly 
enjoyed themselves nevertheless. Lawson, the engineer in 
charge of the work, had donned his best suit in honour of 
the occasion, and when it came to the question of providing 
something dry for Admiral Hope to wear back to Halifax, 
nothing remained but Lawson's second-best trousers, which 
it appears were much too short. However, he managed to 
get into them, and the interesting spectacle was furnished 
of Her Majesty's chief naval officer on the North American 
station travelling to the provincial capital in a shabby pair 
of high-lows and an oilskin jacket. 

About this time, or perhaps a year or two later, Fleming 
fell victim to the delights of salmon fishing on the Resti- 
gouche. In 1868 he leased thirty miles of the river, and had 
it all to himself for the next ten years. When the burden 
of things threatened to become intolerable, and the season 
admitted, he would jump on a train, drive up to his camp 
on the Restigouche, and forget all cares and worries in the 
tingling hope of a 25-pounder. 

Meantime, he was busily engaged pushing to completion 


the construction of the Intercolonial. The work did not 
proceed without more than one set-back ; in fact every year 
brought its grist of difficulties ; but these were in the main 
purely technical problems, which would not properly find 
a place in a book of this nature, and the story of which has 
already been very fully told in Fleming's own history of 
The Intercolonial. It may not, however, be inappropriate 
to complete this chapter in his life by repeating the con- 
cluding words in his sketch of the great national railway, to 
the surveying and building of which he devoted so many 
years of his life. 

' The Intercolonial Railway ', he says, ' owes its existence to 
the creation of the Dominion, although it may be said that 
neither could have been consummated without the other. 
One of the first efforts of united British America has been 
the establishment of this line of communication, to make 
intercourse possible between the Provinces. It is the rail- 
way which brings the Maritime Provinces into connexion 
with Central Canada. At each extremity of the wilderness 
hitherto unoccupied except by the hunter or the Indian, 
and never traversed without difficulty, were found separate 
communities, each with the sentiment that all had interests 
in common ; all equally belonged to the outer Empire of 
Great Britain ; all were identified with her glories and 
greatness ; all had been devoted to her in the hour of trial ; 
yet all were denied means of intercommunication, and were 
unable to unite for a common purpose. There is no longer 
an unpenetrated wilderness to bar the hope of realizing all 
the benefits of union. The Provinces are now brought into 
daily connexion and association, possessing identity of 
political life, with institutions extending equal justice to 
all, covered with the ample flag of the Empire, and with 
advantages which are unrivalled. If we but prove true to 
ourselves, our future prosperity is assured. . . . 

1 The railway will give easy access to many of the scenes 
of the long struggle between France and Britain for the 
mastery of the Northern Continent, terminated by the 
triumph of Wolfe at Quebec. The record of many of these 


events is still imperfectly written. The naval engagement 
on the Bay Chaleur, the fierce contests around the now 
grass-grown Forts of Lawrence, Beausejour, and Monet on, 
are seldom heard of, but the scenes of these conflicts are 
now made accessible ; and some future historian may, by 
the inspiration of viewing the ground, be induced to per- 
petuate the events. The expulsion of the Acadians from 
their homes, which, Wolfe declared, ' added nothing to the 
renown of the King's arms ', we may wish to forget. The 
ever-memorable Miramichi fire, half a century ago, still 
remembered, might well be entombed in similar oblivion ; 
but the tale is to be told, and to be remembered. 

1 More than three centuries ago, Jacques Cartier, coasting 
by New Brunswick, landed on its shores, to abandon them 
for an exploration of the great river, with which his memory 
is for ever connected. At a still earlier date fishermen from 
the Basque Provinces left their Biscayan homes to enrich 
their country by the oil and ivory of the walrus, which in 
vast herds frequented the Bay Chaleur and the St. Lawrence, 
in those early days. Pushing investigation still farther back, 
we meet the Indians, who held the country as a possession 
from nature. We ask the remnants of this once fierce and 
numerous race, and we ask the ethnologist, equally in vain, 
whence they came, and from what stock they descended. 
The district traversed by the railway is full of suggestive 
associations, and cannot fail to awaken the attention and 
interest of inquiring minds. 

' During the past forty years many public men, conspicuous 
in the Councils of the several Provinces, have been identified 
with this railway. Of late years another class, less prominent 
but more numerous, have been the direct and immediate 
instruments in bringing the work to its present completion. 
All may feel an honest pride in this connexion, whatever 
part they played. Some may have toiled for renown : 
others have patiently and silently laboured for duty or for 

* The traveller, who is borne onwards, moving in an hour 
a distance which would have taken weeks to traverse through 


the tangled forests, scarcely casts a thought on the thousands 
of the sons of labour, who toiled so many days and years 
in making smooth his path. Prominent in the list are those 
who explored the forest, who traced the line, and who directed 
the work to its completion. Their professional brotherhood 
and official relationship with the writer suggests to him the 
duty of placing their names permanently on record.' (This 
he did in the Appendix to his book.) 

' It appears, from the account of Jacques Cartier's first 
voyage, that on the ist July, 1534, a * a point between the 
Bay Chaleur and Miramichi, he first planted his foot on the 
new continent. 

' On the ist July, 1761, the great Indian Chief, Argimault, 
whose race had long warred against the British settlers, met 
the authorities at Halifax, and terminated the Indian wars 
by declaring perpetual submission to Great Britain, and with 
great solemnity buried the hatchet for ever. 

' The Dominion came into being exactly 333 years after 
the bold navigator of St. Malo landed on the shores of Acadia, 
and the anniversary of its birth in the present year marks 
another important epoch in the history of the country. On 
this day, July 1, 1876, may be chronicled the completion of 
the Intercolonial Railway, and the full consummation of the 
union of the British Provinces in North America.' 

To appreciate the foregoing, one must stand with Sandf ord 
Fleming on the ist July, 1876, and look back with him some 
thirteen years to the day on which he and his devoted little 
band of engineers started out into the wilderness to survey 
a route for the Intercolonial ; follow upward through the 
years the history of the work, the obstacles that had to be, 
and therefore were, overcome, the difficulties and discourage- 
ments that continually taxed the resources and patience of 
the Chief and his assistants ; the completion of the surveys, 
and the selection of a route ; the building of the railway 
itself, with an entirely new set of problems to solve and 
impediments to patiently overcome ; finally the conclu- 
sion of the whole work. No one but Fleming himself 
can ever know the whole inner history of the Intercolonial, 


or how much of his own unconquerable personality went into 
the work and made possible its successful completion. But 
knowing as much as we do, knowing what it meant to the 
scattered provinces of Canada in 1876 to find the distance 
between them reduced from weeks to hours, and knowing the 
tremendous effect of the Intercolonial upon the subsequent 
history of the Dominion, we can readily enough stand beside 
Fleming on the 1st July, 1876, and, looking upon the com- 
pleted work, say that it was good. 

In submitting his final report to the Honourable Alexander 
Mackenzie, at that time Prime Minister and also Minister of 
Public Works, Fleming said : ' In placing this volume before 
you, I feel that I am performing the last act of duty in the 
office I have long held, and that I am separating myself from 
a work to the prosecution of which, with many friends and 
fellow-labourers, I have devoted for many years the best 
energies of my life. A connexion of this kind is not broken 
without an effort ; but any personal considerations must dis- 
appear in view of the completion of a work which realizes the 
national aspirations of half a century, by bringing within 
a few hours the old fortress of Halifax and the older citadel 
of Quebec, and which must form an important section of the 
railway destined ere long to extend from east to west through 
the entire Dominion.' 



When in 1876 Fleming submitted his final report on the 
Intercolonial Railway, which took the form of the very 
interesting historical sketch referred to in preceding chapters, 
he had already been engaged for five years on an even more 
important project. 

In 1 87 1 he was offered the position of Engineer-in-Chief 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He hesitated to accept 
the appointment, feeling that the responsibilities of the 
Intercolonial were enough for one man to assume, but finally 
reluctantly consented on the Government representing it to 
him as a matter of public duty. The situation was unusual. 
The Canadian Pacific Railway, a gigantic undertaking viewed 
even from the standpoint of to-day, was in 1871 a project 
without a parallel, or anything approaching a parallel, in 
the development of transportation facilities. When one 
places oneself in the Canada of 1871 with its sparse population 
and undeveloped resources, it is impossible not to admire the 
splendid courage of the public men who launched the first 
transcontinental railway. With such a task to be carried 
through, it is not to be wondered at that the Government of 
the day turned to the one Canadian engineer big and broad 
and experienced enough to handle it successfully, and that 
they would not take a denial. 

From 1871, therefore, to 1880, Fleming was engaged in 
directing a series of careful surveys for the line of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway, and to some extent in building the road. 
For five years he filled the dual positions of Chief Engineer of 
the Intercolonial and of the Canadian Pacific, and for a por- 
tion of that time he was also Chief Engineer of the Newfound- 
land Railway. No man without his extraordinary mental 
and physical vigour could have borne the tremendous strain. 


The task was herculean. The building of the Intercolonial 
was itself a work of sufficient magnitude, and it must be 
remembered that this man brought to every undertaking 
a conscientious care that extended to every detail. Yet at 
the same time he was planning and personally supervising 
the gigantic undertaking of a railway from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific, the first transcontinental road in North America, 
and at that time by all odds the most formidable railway 
project in the world. The work involved surveys through 
the extremely difficult country north of Lake Superior, 
among the snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and 
through that veritable sea of mountains that constitutes so 
much of the great province of British Columbia. The results 
of these surveys must eventually be brought together, and 
a route selected for the railway that would under all the 
circumstances be most advantageous to the country. 

The railway during the period that Fleming was associated 
with it was a national project ; to all intents and purposes 
it was an extension of the Intercolonial to the Pacific Ocean, 
designed to link the newly-created provinces of Manitoba 
and British Columbia to the rest of the Dominion, to create 
a channel of communication east and west, to open up to 
settlement the vast fertile areas of the western plains, to 
stimulate trade and industry, and to lead to the rapid 
development of the entire country. To the individual 
provinces it would be a vital factor in their material advance- 
ment. To the Dominion it would be a national asset of 
inestimable importance. To the Empire it would become 
an important link in the chain of communication between 
the mother country and her far-flung dependencies. 

The project appealed to Fleming as a great and intricate 
engineering problem ; but even more so as a matter of 
national and imperial significance. He was then, as he has 
always been, what maybe described as a practical imperialist. 
He has dreamed dreams and formulated projects that were 
sometimes in advance of his times, but his dreams have never 
been -impractical, and his projects have always been based 
on a firm foundation of common-sense. They have looked 


always to the knitting together of the scattered members of 
a world-wide empire by creating and improving the means of 
communication ; and they have had behind them the con- 
viction that as the greatest obstacle in the way of imperial 
consolidation is the ignorance on the part of each community 
of the life and environment and outlook of all the others, 
every breach in that wall of ignorance, every advance in the 
means of communication, must inevitably make for better 
understanding, closer fellowship and the only lasting form 
of imperial federation. 

The project of a transportation route across British North 
America from ocean to ocean was the dream of far-sighted 
men for the better part of a century before its realization. 
The late George Johnson, in his interesting notes on the 
Canadian Pacific Railway, in First Things in Canada, 
reminds us that Alexander Mackenzie, the dauntless explorer 
who made the first overland journey to the Pacific in 1793, 
proposed ' to open and establish a commercial communication 
through the continent of North America between the 
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ' ; that McTaggart, an engineer 
connected with the building of the Rideau Canal in 1829, 
had advocated the opening up of a water communication 
from Lake Superior to Lake Winnipeg, thence by the 
Saskatchewan to the mountains, and by the Columbia to the 
Pacific ; that Sir Richard Bonny castle prophesied in 1846, 
' We shall yet place an iron belt from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, a railway from Halifax to Nootka Sound ' ; that 
Major Carmichael-Smyth had three years later published 
a pamphlet attempting to demonstrate the practicability of 
a railway from Halifax to the mouth of the Fraser ; and 
that in 185 1 Joseph Howe said, at a public meeting in 
Halifax, ' I believe that many in this room will live to hear 
the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky 
Mountains, and to make the journey from Halifax to the 
Pacific in five or six days/ He might have added that 
ten years later Thomas D'Arcy McGee, contemplating 
the Victoria Bridge from the summit of Mount Royal, 
was inspired to predict the day that would see railway 


trains crossing this bridge on their way to the Pacific. 
These are but a few of many writers and public speakers 
who at one time or another advocated the establish- 
ment of a line of communication through British territory 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Sometimes the project 
contemplated merely a wagon road ; sometimes a system 
of water communication, or a water route with connecting 
portages, a combined water and rail route, finally an all-rail 
route from ocean to ocean. 

Inevitably there were never wanting those who, for one 
reason or another, scouted the idea as impracticable or ridi- 
culous. Probably the most serious of these opponents of the 
scheme was Captain Palliser, whose views both as a man of 
scientific attainments and because of his personal knowledge 
of much of the country to be traversed seemed entitled 
to particular consideration. In his Report to the British 
Government (1863) he concludes : ' The knowledge of the 
country on the whole would never lead me to advise a line 
of communication from Canada across the continent to the 
Pacific exclusively through British territory. The time has 
for ever gone by for effecting such an object, and the un- 
fortunate choice of an astronomical boundary line has com- 
pletely isolated the central American possessions of Great 
Britain from Canada in the east, and also almost debarred 
them from any eligible access from the Pacific coast on the 
west.' The sequel proved, as it has so often done, that even 
the most eminent authorities may sometimes go astray in 
their deductions. 

A year earlier Henry Youle Hind had published his Over- 
land Route to British Columbia, and supported his own 
contentions as to the feasibility of the project by the inclusion 
of a carefully thought-out paper by Fleming, ' Practical 
Observations on the Construction of a Continuous Line of 
Railway from Canada to the Pacific Ocean on British Terri- 
tory ', to which reference has already been made. This 
pamphlet was more or less instrumental in inducing the 
people of the Red River settlement, who were deeply con- 
cerned in the establishment of such a railway or other means 


of communication, to ask Fleming to represent their interests 
before the Canadian and British Governments. His efforts 
to meet their wishes have already been described in another 
chapter. Although they led to no immediate results, so far 
as the people of Red River were concerned, they contributed 
to the appointment of Fleming as Chief Engineer of the Inter- 
colonial Railway, and eventually, one may venture to say, 
to his selection as Engineer-in-Chief of the Canadian Pacific 

In a lecture delivered as long ago as 1858 he had fore- 
shadowed the very project upon which he was now engaged. 
Referring to the then proposed American railway to Cali- 
fornia, he said : 

' In the United States the Pacific Railway has been regarded 
for more than ten years as the great practical problem. Two 
reasons have effectually prevented its being attempted. 
These are, want of means, and the difficulty of settling 
upon its proper route. The people could not build it, the 
Government could not build it, and it could not be expected 
that foreign capitalists would undertake it. To take up 
$100,000,000 of capital in the United States for any new 
undertaking would be simply impossible. The difficulties 
of routes are nearly as conclusive. No less than five have 
been proposed, and each in turn warmly urged, and yet all 
have grave faults. The extreme Northern is pronounced to 
be the best of all, so far as facility of execution is concerned, 
but it is admitted that a still better route might be obtained 
through British America or north of the 49th parallel.' 

Of such a route through British territory he says : ' A rail- 
way in British America from Fort William on Lake Superior 
to Fraser River would be about nineteen hundred miles in 
length. For several hundred miles west of Lake Superior the 
line would traverse a fine country. It would cross the Red 
River of the North near the celebrated Selkirk Settlement, 
and would then proceed through a well-watered country by 
way of the Moose or Saskatchewan Rivers to the base of the 
Rocky Mountains. This great range, which has an elevation 
of 10,000 feet in the 41st parallel of latitude, gradually falls 


off as we go north. It is probable that a pass at an elevation 
of not over 6,500 feet could be obtained beyond the sources 
of the Saskatchewan. After crossing the Rocky Mountains 
and the Columbia River, the coast range of mountains, 
another lofty chain, would have to be passed. Throughout 
the route there is abundance of coal, while there is no scarcity 
of water. 

* The growing necessity for the line of railway under notice 
will unquestionably enlist English skill and English capital 
in its execution. The advantages which it would confer are 
too obvious to require pointing out. In going from Liverpool 
to Fraser River the continental route would save some 
twenty days, the entire journey being made, as it would be, 
in seventeen days, while to go via Panama and San Francisco 
as at present occupies about forty days. 

' A Pacific Railway was until very lately considered, if con- 
sidered at all, as a wild hallucination, but the time appears 
to be rapidly approaching when the great work will be under- 
taken in sober earnest. Before much time passes away the 
question of location will come up, and if we can judge rightly, 
England will not be disposed to father an undertaking of 
this description on any soil but her own, nor will she rest 
satisfied with a means of communication between the two 
oceans which will be open only during the summer months. 
The Pacific Railway cannot stop short at Lake Superior ; 
whatever difficulties may exist, the link between that lake 
and the Canadian system of railways must be completed. 
Let us take a map of North America and hastily glance at the 
limits between which this magnificent work must be con- 
structed. There is no difficulty in at once placing one's finger 
on certain governing points. The northern bend of Lake 
Superior is one, the French River east of Lake Huron is 
another. Between these points the most direct course will 
be taken. 

' The construction of the Pacific Railway is a work of the 
grandest magnitude and perhaps of universal importance. 
In regarding such an enterprise we pass at once from the 
sphere of ordinary undertakings, for the Pacific Railway 


would surpass in every element of magnitude and cost, and 
probably also in its physical difficulties and commercial 
results, any work ever undertaken by man. It would be of 
full two thousand miles length, through a country now un- 
inhabited ; it would cross one of the great mountain ranges 
of the globe ; such a work could not be expected to be carried 
through for less than $100,000,000. 

' British capital will not be wanting on the maturing of a 
properly devised scheme to extend in this channel the enter- 
prise of British merchants, to bring nearer to England her 
Eastern Empire, to secure to her the perpetuity of her domi- 
nion upon this continent, to tie with a band of iron the 
interests and the affections of her subjects in Europe, Asia, 
and America, to colonize half a continent and to complete 
the foundation of her Canadian Empire/ 

The young Canadian nation was now undertaking, with 
rare courage and foresight, the gigantic task which Fleming 
had proposed as an Imperial project in 1858. 

Under the terms of union with British Columbia, the 
Canadian Government, in 1871, undertook to secure the 
construction of a railway connecting the new province with 
Eastern Canada. The immediate result of this pledge was 
the appointment of Fleming as Engineer-in-Chief of the 
Canadian Pacific Railway. The organization of survey 
parties was at once taken in hand, and before many months 
had gone by these parties were at work toiling through the 
vast wilderness of the west, searching for practicable routes. 
As already indicated, the most serious problems confronting 
the Chief Engineer were presented by the rugged and almost 
unknown country north of Lake Superior, the formidable 
barrier of the Rocky Mountains, and the wild jumble of 
mountains and valleys between the Rockies and the coast. 

In his Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway for the 
year 1877, Fleming says of that portion of the route lying 
between the Ottawa River and Fort Garry (Winnipeg) : * At 
the beginning of the survey a large extent of this region was 
but little less strange than the mountain region. No civilized 
man, so far as known, had ever passed from the valley of the 


Upper Ottawa through the intervening wilderness to Lake 
Superior. The country east and west of Lake Nepigon was 
all but a terra incognita. It is true that the chain of lakes 
and streams from Thunder Bay to the Lake of the Woods and 
Fort Garry, known as the Dawson Route, had been travelled, 
but this route was circuitous and much out of the way of 
a direct railway line/ 

Some idea of the problems that had to be met and overcome 
in the preliminary surveys through this country may be 
gained from the fact that eleven strong survey parties were 
found necessary, the supplies for which had to be transported 
through an entirely roadless and sometimes exceedingly 
rough region. In fact, the difficulties encountered were so 
serious that, in spite of the utmost diligence, months had gone 
by before portions of the survey could be actually commenced. 
The little already known of the country had led to the con- 
clusion that it was impracticable for railway construction. 
Along the north shore of Lake Superior it was known to be 
of an ' extremely rough and broken character ; precipitous 
granite mountains, intersected by deep valleys, rising in all 
directions, with elevations varying from 500 to 1,000 feet 
above the level of the lake \ Parties were therefore sent 
north of Lake Nepigon, and it was found that the railway 
might be constructed there without exceptionally heavy 
work or gradients. But as this would involve a considerable 
detour, further attempts were made to obtain a line along 
the north shore of Lake Superior, and in 1874 this route was 
adopted, though it involved numerous tunnels and sharp 
curves, the line following in many instances the shores of 
deep indenting bays. Any one who has travelled along this 
portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway will realize the 
difficulties that had to be encountered both in surveying the 
route and building the railway. 

The selection of a route through British Columbia involved 
the examination of many possible lines. These narrowed 
down to ten different routes projected from the Yellowhead 
Pass, which had been selected as the most practicable road 
through the Rocky Mountains. Two of these terminated at 



Port Moody, on Burrard Inlet ; one extended to Howe Sound ; 
two ran to Waddington Harbour on Bute Inlet ; one to Dean 
North Bentinck Arm ; two terminated at Kamsquot on Dean 
Inlet ; one at Triumph Bay on Gardner Inlet ; and the last 
at Port Essington. 

In his 1878 Report, the Chief Engineer says : ' Upon care- 
fully viewing the engineering features of each route, and 
weighing every commercial consideration, I am forced to the 
conclusion that, if these alone are to govern a selection, if a 
decision cannot be postponed until further examinations be 
made, if the construction of the railway must at once be pro- 
ceeded with, the line to Vancouver Island (by way of Bute 
Inlet) should for the present be rejected, and that the Govern- 
ment should select the route by the Rivers Thompson and 
Fraser to Burrard Inlet.' And in his Report of the following 
year, he confirms his previous recommendation ; but, to meet 
the strong opposition that had developed in British Columbia 
to the selection of the Burrard Inlet route, suggests that 
additional explorations should be made and more complete 
information obtained with regard to the northern country. 
These explorations were carried out, and the results com- 
municated to the Government. On October 4, 1879, an 
Order in Council was passed ratifying the adoption of the 
route by way of the Yellowhead Pass to Burrard Inlet. The 
project of a railway to Bute Inlet, and from there across 
the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island, which had been 
enthusiastically advocated by many people in British Colum- 
bia, was shelved for a time ; as well as the suggested line to 
Port Simpson through the northern part of the province. The 
latter route is substantially that of the Grand Trunk Pacific 
Railway. The idea of bridging the Strait of Georgia has been 
revived periodically since 1879, and there is no reason to 
doubt that before many years it will be possible to travel by 
rail from the mainland to Victoria. 

In connexion with the selection of Burrard Inlet as the 
terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it is interesting to 
note the elaborate report of Major-General Moody on the 
various routes through British Columbia, published as Appen- 


dix 10 to the Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway for 
1880. General Moody unhesitatingly endorsed Fleming's 
selection of the route to Burrard Inlet, and, among other 
considerations, recommended it from a military point of 
view. ' Burrard Inlet ', he says, ' is remarkably adapted by 
nature for secure defence against any force by sea. It is 
secure from land attacks from the north, and the formation 
of the whole neighbourhood southwards to the frontier, and 
for many miles eastward, is such that an approach from the 
frontier would, under defence, be found all the way a pecu- 
liarly troublesome matter by an enemy/ 

While serious difficulties had to be overcome in locating 
a line for the railway along the north shore of Lake Superior, 
and through the maze of mountain ranges and valleys in 
British Columbia,the real crux of the whole situation was the 
gateway through the Rocky Mountains, and to the solution 
of this serious problem the energies of Fleming and his capable 
staff of engineers were directed for several years. Previous 
explorations, dating back to the days of Alexander Mackenzie, 
had established the existence of many passes through the 
mountains north of the present international boundary, from 
the Kootenay in the south to the Peace in the north. Most 
of these were now examined by survey parties, the narratives 
of whose expeditions often furnish striking examples of pluck 
and endurance under exceedingly trying conditions. Finally 
the Yellowhead Pass route was decided upon, leading from 
Edmonton west to the upper waters of the Athabaska, by 
the Jasper Valley to Yellowhead Pass, thence down the Fraser 
to Tete Jaune Cache. 

This was the situation in 1880, when Fleming finally 
severed his connexion with the Canadian Pacific Railway 
surveys . The line as then located extended from Fort William 
(eastward the route still remained in some doubt) to the Red 
River, which was crossed at Selkirk, with a branch to Winni- 
peg. West of Red River the original location north of Lake 
Manitoba had been abandoned, and the line carried south 
of the lake, thence in a general north-westerly direction to 
Battleford and Edmonton. West of Yellowhead Pass the 



route descended the North Thompson to Kamloops, thence 
down the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to the Pacific. 

Between 1871 and 1880 the work had been carried on by 
the Government of Canada as a national undertaking. In 
the latter year, however, the great project was handed over 
to a private company, headed by George Stephen (now 
Lord Mount Stephen) and Donald A. Smith (afterwards Lord 
Strathcona), and the route west of Red River was entirely 
changed, the line selected running much nearer the boundary, 
and crossing the Rocky Mountains by the Kicking Horse 

In 1872, shortly after he had assumed control of the 
surveys, Fleming made his first journey across the continent, 
by way of the Yellowhead Pass. In 1883, after he had 
severed his connexion with the work, he again crossed from 
ocean to ocean, this time by way of the Kicking Horse Pass. 
An account of this journey, as well as of the earlier one, 
will be given in subsequent chapters. 

It will be convenient, however, to describe here the last 
dramatic incident in the building of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway — the driving of the last spike and the passage of 
the first through train in 1885. Fleming was one of the 
chief actors in the historic episode, and tells the story. 

1 On the evening of October 27, when the regular Winnipeg 
train left Montreal, a private car, the " Saskatchewan," was 
attached, with the design of proceeding to Port Moody, at 
that date the terminus, the new city of Vancouver having 
no existence. The car contained seven persons ; five came 
the whole way from Montreal, one of them joined at Ottawa, 
and one on their way to Port Moody. . . . The train 
beyond Calgary became a " special " and reached the 
western crossing of the Columbia in fifty-six hours after 
leaving Winnipeg. The gap, however, was not closed, the 
work having been retarded by incessant rains, so the train 
could not proceed farther. Early on the morning of the 
7th, the junction was verging to completion, and at 9 o'clock 
the last rail was laid in its place. All that remained to 
finish the work was to drive home one spike. 


1 By common consent, the duty of performing the task 
was assigned to one of the four Directors present, the senior 
in years and influence, whose high character placed him in 
prominence — Sir Donald Alexander Smith. No one could 
on such an occasion more worthily represent the company 
or more appropriately give the finishing blows which, in 
a national sense, were to complete the gigantic undertaking. 

1 Sir Donald Smith braced himself to the task, and he 
wielded the by no means light spike hammer with as good 
a will as a professional tracklayer. The work was carried 
on in silence. Nothing was heard but the reverberation of 
the blows struck by him. It was no ordinary occasion, the 
scene was in every respect noteworthy, from the group 
which composed it and the circumstances which had brought 
together so many human beings in this spot in the heart of 
the mountains, until recently an untracked solitude. Most 
of the engineers, with hundreds of workmen of all nationali- 
ties, who had been engaged in the mountains, were present. 
Every one appeared to be deeply impressed by what was 
taking place. The central figure in the group was somewhat 
more than the representative of the railway company which 
had achieved the triumph he was consummating. His 
presence recalled memories of the Mackenzies and Mc- 
Tavishes, the Stuarts and McGillivrays, the Frasers, Finlay- 
sons, McLeods, and McLaughlins and their contemporaries, 
who first penetrated the surrounding territory. From his 
youth he had been connected with the company which for 
so long had carried on its operations successfully from Labra- 
dor to the Pacific, and from California to Alaska. To-day 
he was the chief representative of that vast organization 
which, before the close of the last century, had sent out 
pioneers to map out and occupy the unknown wilderness, 
and which, as a trading association, is in the third century 
of its existence. All present were more or less affected by 
a formality which was the crowning effort of years of labour, 
intermingled with doubts and fears and oft renewed energy 
to overcome what at times appeared unsurmountable 
obstacles. Moreover, was it not the triumphal termination 


of numberless failures, the successful solution of the fre- 
quently repeated attempts of the British people, ever since 
America had been discovered, to find a new route to Asia ? 
To what extent the thoughts of those present were turned 
to the past, must with that undemonstrative group remain 
a secret with each individual person. This much may be 
said : to all, the scene was deeply impressive, and especially 
to the many hundreds of workmen, who from an early hour 
up to the last moment, had struggled to do their part, and 
who were now mute lookers-on at the single individual 
actively engaged — at one who in his own person united the 
past with the present, the most prominent member of the 
ancient company of " Adventurers of England," as he was 
the representative of the great Canadian Pacific Railway 

' The blows on the spike were repeated until it was driven 
home. The silence, however, continued unbroken, and it 
must be said that a more solemn ceremony has been wit- 
nessed with less solemnity. It seemed as if the act now 
performed had worked a spell on all present. Each one 
appeared absorbed in his own reflections. The abstraction 
of mind, or silent emotion, or whatever it might be, was, 
however, of short duration. Suddenly a cheer spontane- 
ously burst forth, and it was no ordinary cheer. The 
subdued enthusiasm, the pent-up feelings of men familiar 
with hard work, now found vent. Cheer upon cheer followed, 
as if it was difficult to satisfy the spirit which had been 
aroused. Such a scene is conceivable on the field of hard- 
fought battle at the moment when victory is assured. 

' Not infrequently some matter-of-fact remark forms the 
termination of the display of great emotion. As the shouts 
subsided, and the exchange of congratulations were being 
given, a voice was heard in the most prosaic tones, as of 
constant daily occurrence : " All aboard for the Pacific." 
The notice was quickly acted upon, and in a few minutes the 
train was in motion. It passed over the newly-laid rail, 
and amid renewed cheers sped on its way westward. 

* On the same night a telegram was sent to Ottawa and 


published in the eastern Canadian newspapers. It ran : 
" The first train from Montreal is approaching Yale, within 
a few hours of the Pacific coast. The last spike was driven 
this morning by Hon. Donald A. Smith at Craigellachie, 
in Eagle Pass, some 340 miles from Port Moody. On 
reaching the coast our running time from Montreal, exclusive 
of stoppages, will be five days, averaging twenty-four miles 
per hour. Before long passenger trains may run over the 
railway from Montreal to Vancouver in four days, and it 
will be quite possible to travel on special occasions from 
Liverpool to the Pacific coast by the Canadian transcon- 
tinental line in ten days. All are greatly pleased with the 
work done. It is impossible to fully realize that enormous 
physical and other difficulties have been overcome with 
such marvellous rapidity and with results so satisfactory." 
The train arrived at Port Moody the following morning, 
November 8. On the succeeding morning the principal 
newspapers in England published the substance of the above 
telegram, with the additional important fact that the first 
through train from Montreal had actually arrived at the 



In the summer of 1872, Fleming, having carefully exa- 
mined the reports of his engineers, thought it desirable to 
study with his own eyes the main features of the route that 
at least tentatively had been selected for the Canadian 
Pacific Railway. 

Leaving Halifax about the beginning of July, he travelled 
to Montreal and Toronto, inspecting as he went the con- 
struction work on the Intercolonial, on which over 10,000 
men were then employed. At Toronto he was joined by his 
son Frank, Dr. Moren of Halifax, John Macoun the botanist, 
and Rev. George M. Grant, whose entertaining account of 
the expedition, Ocean to Ocean, is largely drawn upon in this 

From Toronto to Collingwood they travelled over the old 
Northern Railway, upon which Fleming had had his first 
experience in railway building in Canada. At Collingwood 
a steamer was taken to Fort William. An incident of the 
trip was the use on Sunday of a special service compiled 
the previous year for the Canadian Pacific Railway Survey 
parties, at the request of the Chief Engineer, by a committee 
of three Ottawa clergymen, representing the Churches of 
Rome, England, and Scotland. The steamer finally reached 
Thunder Bay on July 22 — five days from Collingwood. 

From Prince Arthur's Landing the party followed the 
Dawson Route, by wagon and canoe, to Fort Garry. Here 
saddle-horses were procured, with Red River carts for the 
baggage, and the expedition set out over the great plains for 
the mountains, travelling by way of Fort Ellice, Fort Carlton, 
and Edmonton. On the way they met or passed numbers 
of hunting or trading parties, traders going west and half- 
breeds returning east with carts well-laden with buffalo- 


skins and dried meat. ' A number of Red River people club 
together in the spring and go west to hunt the buffalo. 
Their united caravan is popularly called a " brigade ", and 
very picturesque is its appearance on the road or round the 
camp-fire. The old men, the women, and little children are 
engaged on the expedition, and all help. The men ride 
and the women drive the carts. The children make the 
fires and do chores for the women. The men shoot buffalo ; 
the women dry the meat and make it into pemmican.' 

From Edmonton, the route lay over the Rocky Mountains 
by way of the Yellowhead Pass. Fresh saddle-horses were 
obtained from the Hudson's Bay Company, and the carts 
were abandoned for pack-horses accustomed to the peculiari- 
ties of mountain trails. A month out from Fort Garry they 
had their first view of the mountains — the foot-hills between 
the Athabaska and the McLeod. On the banks of the 
McLeod a relic was found of the party of Canadian emigrants 
who crossed the mountains in 1862, in the shape of a partly- 
obliterated record chalked on the side of a large spruce, and 
ending with the significant words ' a hard road to travel \ 

September 9 they reached the Athabaska, with the snow- 
crowned summits of the Rockies in full view, though still 
some fifty miles to the west and south-west. 

At the camp that night a curious relic of early days came 
to light. ' While hacking with his axe at brush on the 
camping-ground, just where our heads would lie, Brown 
struck something metallic that blunted the edge of the axe. 
Feeling with his hand he drew out from near the root of 
a young spruce tree an ancient sword bayonet, the brazen 
hilt and steel blade in excellent preservation, but the leather 
scabbard half eaten as if by the teeth of some animal. It 
seemed strange in this vast and silent forest wilderness thus 
to come upon a relic that told, probably, of the old days 
when the two rival fur companies armed their agents to the 
teeth, and when bloody contests often took place between 
them.' The old sword in its rotting scabbard hangs to-day 
on the walls of Fleming's home in Ottawa, among other 
mementoes of the far west. 


As they continued their journey to the west, the moun- 
tains loomed up ever more imposingly across their path, 
except ' where cleft in the centre down to their very feet 
by the chasm that the Athabaska long ago forced or found 
for itself/ The summits on the north side were serrated 
' as the teeth of a saw \ On the other ' the Roche a Myette, 
immediately behind the first line, reared a great solid un- 
broken cube, two thousand feet high, a " forehead bare ", 
twenty times higher than Ben An's, and before and beyond 
it, away to the south and west, extended ranges with bold 
summits and sides scooped deep, and corries far down, 
where formerly the wood buffalo and the elk, and now the 
moose, bighorn, and bear find shelter/ 

The trail presently brought them from higher ground 
down to the valley of the Athabaska. As this noble river 
wound through the dark green spruces, amid rose bushes 
and vetches, the ' soft blue of the mountains gleamed through 
everywhere, and when the woods parted, the mighty column 
of Roche a Perdrix towered a mile above our heads, scuds of 
clouds kissing its snowy summit, and each plication and angle 
of the different strata up its giant sides was boldly and clearly 
revealed. We were entering the magnificent jasper portals 
of the Rocky Mountains by a quiet path winding between 
groves of trees and rich lawns like an English gentleman's 

Full of enthusiasm, the travellers pushed their way up the 
valley, stopping to drink to the Queen from the clear ice- 
cold waters of Riviere de Violin, now known as Fiddle Creek, 
and famous in the west by reason of the extreme sudden- 
ness with which it is transformed from a modest, unassuming 
stream to a tempestuous torrent. With towering peaks 
about them on every side, they ' could now sympathize with 
the enthusiast who returned home after years of absence, and 
when asked what he had as an equivalent for so much lost 
time, answered : " I have seen the Rocky Mountains "/ 

They were now beneath the towering front of Roche 
a Myette, and recalled the fact that Dr. Hector, who ex- 
plored the mountains thirteen or fourteen years earlier, had 

o .§ 

pi ^ 



climbed 3,500 feet above the valley until stopped by a per- 
pendicular wall that still towered two thousand feet above 
him. It was said that the summit had once been reached by 
a daring hunter, who gave his name to the peak. 

Roche a Myette, rising some 9,000 feet above sea-level, 
hardly ranks among the higher peaks of the Rockies, but its 
peculiar form and position lend it distinction. As one 
travels west by the Grand Trunk Pacific its magnificent 
forehead dominates the landscape ; and those who journeyed 
this way before the advent of the railway had the peak in 
view for days, until they began to think that it was be- 
witched and that they would never win to its base. 

The water in the Athabaska being too high for pack- 
horses, it was decided to build a raft. On this the baggage 
was safely taken across, and a short ride brought Fleming 
and his companions to Jasper House, fifteen days after 
leaving Edmonton. This old post, supposed to have been 
named after a fur-trader named Jasper Howse, had practi- 
cally been abandoned by the Hudson's Bay Company. In 
Dr. Hector's time the main building seems to have been 
somewhat pretentious, as he describes it as ' constructed 
after the Swiss style, with overhanging roofs and trelissed 
porticoes ', but all that remained in 1872 were two log houses, 
the largest propped up before and behind with rough shores, 
as if to prevent it being blown away into the river. To-day 
not even these remain to bear witness to the departed glory 
of the once famous route of the fur-traders through the 

1 Jasper House is one of the best possible places for seeing 
to advantage the mountains up and down the valley. It 
is situated on a pretty glade that slopes gently to the Atha- 
baska, sufficiently large and open to command a view in 
every direction. Roche a Myette, distant five or six miles, is 
half concealed by intervening heights and is here less con- 
spicuous than elsewhere, even when seen from greater dis- 
tances, but a gleam of sunlight brightens his great face and 
makes even it look lightsome. A score of miles to the south 
the Pyramid Rock gracefully uplifts its snowy face and 


shuts in the valley, the space between being filled by the 
mountains of Rocky River and the great shoulders of Roche 
Jacques. Looking westerly is Suette (Roche de Smet), his 
rampart rising cold, stern, and grey above his furrowed sides. 
Other peaks overhang the valley to the north, and between 
them deep wooded valleys are dark as night. Separated 
from these by the Snake Indian River, the true proportions 
of Roche a Bosche are seen for the first time. . . . 

* There is a wonderful combination of beauty about 
these mountains. Great masses of boldly defined bare rock 
are united to the beauty that variety of form, colour, and 
vegetation give. A noble river with many tributaries each 
defining a distinct range, and a beautiful lake ten miles 
long, embosomed three thousand three hundred feet above 
the sea, among mountains twice as high, offer innumerable 
scenes, seldom to be found within the same compass, to the 

Rounding Jasper Lake, and a smaller lake that lay beyond, 
in whose dark green waters the pine-clad ridges were wonder- 
fully reflected, the trail led them through tangles of fallen 
timber that made progress very slow for some time. These 
stretches of down timber, the result of great forest fires recent 
or remote, are the particular abomination of those who have 
occasion to travel over Rocky Mountain trails. In some 
places the trunks are piled one upon another to a height of 
ten or fifteen feet, until even the marvellous sagacity of the 
western pony is at fault and his rider must laboriously cut 
a way through with his axe. 

' At the end of Jasper Lake a strath from two to five miles 
wide, which may still be called the Jasper Valley, bends to 
the south. Our first look up this valley showed new lines 
of mountains on both sides, closed at the head by a great 
mountain so white with snow that it looked like a sheet 
suspended from the heavens.' They were told by their 
guide that this mountain was known as ' La montagne de la 
grande traverse ', and that the road to the Columbia country 
by the formidable Athabaska Pass lay along its south- 
eastern base, while their way would turn west up the valley 


of the Myette. The great snow-crowned mountain was 
probably that now known as Mount Geikie, one of the highest 
and most impressive peaks in this part of the Rockies. 

About the middle of September, the party passed the site 
of an old trading-post of the North-West Company known as 
Henry House, and camped somewhere near the spot where 
the infant town of Jasper is to-day springing up, on the 
Grand Trunk Pacific. Here two great routes through the 
mountains fork, one leading up the Athabaska to the pass of 
the same name, and the other up the Myette to Yellowhead 
Pass, or Leather Pass as it was formerly called. Then as 
now it was a spot to charm the lover of mountain scenery, 
with Pyramid Mountain, streaked and banded with red and 
yellow, green and black, on one side, and the pine-clad slopes 
of Goat Mountain on the other, while the glittering summits 
of Geikie, Hardisty, and other remote peaks filled the horizon. 

As they were turning up the Myette, they met Walter 
Moberly, one of Fleming's principal assistants on the surveys. 
He had travelled from the west to meet his chief, bringing 
with him a trail-cutting party who were now at work some 
distance up the pass. After a hard and tiresome pull up 
through the muskegs and fallen timber of the Myette, they 
finally came in touch with the trail party a few miles east of 
the summit of the pass, and for a time enjoyed much better 

Camped at the summit of Yellowhead Pass, at an altitude 
of only 3,700 feet above the sea, and with the certainty that 
no formidable obstacles need be encountered between 
Edmonton and the western side of the main range, Fleming 
felt that he had solved the greatest problem in connexion 
with the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and that 
the successful completion of the great national project was 
now assured. Those who were subsequently responsible for 
changing the route through the mountains from the Yellow- 
head Pass to the Kicking Horse Pass, no doubt had what 
they considered good and sound reasons for their choice, but 
the fact remains that the route rejected by the Canadian 
Pacific Railway has now been adopted by the Grand Trunk 


Pacific, and that, in spite of the expenditure by the former 
of millions of dollars on tunnels designed to reduce the grade, 
the new transcontinental line will still possess a road through 
the mountains considerably lower than that of its great rival. 

On September 16th, Fleming and his party turned down 
the western slope of Yellowhead Pass, and, a few minutes 
after parting with the eastward-flowing Myette, heard the 
sound of a rivulet running in the opposite direction over 
a red pebbly bottom. ' We had left the iMyette flowing to 
the Arctic Ocean, and now came upon this, the source of the 
Fraser hurrying to the Pacific.' At the summit, Moberly had 
welcomed them into British Columbia, and they all now 
gathered on the banks of the infant Fraser and drank from 
its waters to the Queen and the Canadian Dominion. 

A few miles farther down they passed Yellowhead Lake, its 
waters clear and sparkling on its firm pebbly beach ; and 
after a hard day's travel reached the western end of Moose 
Lake. The following day brought them to the ' Grand Fork 
of the Fraser ', where a tributary that takes its rise in one 
of the glaciers at the foot of Mount Robson, joins the main 
stream. They camped here for a day to rest their horses, 
and in hopes of getting a view of the Giant of the Rockies, 
but without success. 

' Looking west down the valley of the Fraser, the narrow 
pass suddenly filled with rolling billows of mist. On they 
came, curling over the rocky summits, rolling down to the 
forests, enveloping everything in their fleecy mantles. Out 
of them came great gusts of wind that nearly blew away our 
fires and tents ; and after the gusts, the rain in smart showers. 
Once or twice the sun broke through, revealing the hill sides, 
all their autumn tints fresh and glistening after the rain, 
and the line of their summits near and bold against the sky ; 
all except Robson's Peak which showed its huge shoulders 
covered with masses of snow, but on whose high head masses 
of clouds ever rested/ 

The following day brought the travellers to Tete Jaune 
Cache, a spot long famous in the annals of the fur-trade. 
The spot, as well as the mountain pass, are supposed to have 


taken their name from a fair-haired trader or trapper who 
many years before had journeyed to and fro through the 
mountains by this route,and had established his head-quarters 
at the Cache on the banks of the Fraser. 

Here the trail left the Fraser, and turned southerly to the 
North Thompson River. The route which Fleming had 
taken through the mountains, and which he was now to follow 
to the North Thompson and ultimately to Kamloops and 
the Fraser again, was the route provisionally selected for 
the railway. Incidentally he was following practically in the 
footsteps of Milton and Cheadle, who had travelled overland 
to the Pacific in 1863, and embodied the incidents of their 
journey in that most interesting book of western travel, the 
North-West Passage by Land. 

A few days later, while plodding along the trail, they were 
startled by the sound of a bell. ' In a few minutes a solitary 
traveller, walking beside his two laden horses, emerged from 
the woods ahead. He turned out to be one John Glen, 
a miner on his way to prospect for gold on hitherto untried 
mountains and sand-bars. Here was a specimen of Anglo- 
Saxon self-reliant individualism more striking than that 
pictured by Quinet of the American settler, without priest 
or captain at his head, going out into the deep woods or 
virgin lands of the new continent to find and found a home. 
John Glen calculated that there was as good gold in the 
mountains as had yet come out of them, and that he might 
strike a new bar or gulch that would pan out as richly 
as Williams Creek, Cariboo ; so putting blankets and bacon, 
flour and frying-pan, shining pickaxe and shovel on his horses, 
and sticking revolver and knife in his waist, off he started 
from Kamloops to seek fresh fields and pastures new. 
Nothing to him was lack of company or of newspapers ; 
short days and approach of winter ; seas of mountains and 
grassless valleys, equally inhospitable ; risk of sickness and 
certainty of storms ; slow and exhausting travel through 
marsh and muskeg, across roaring mountain torrents and 
miles of fallen timber ; lonely days and lonely nights ; — if 
he found gold he would be repaid. Prospecting was his 


business, and he went about it in simple matter-of-course 
style, as if he were doing business on change. John Glen 
was to us a typical man, the modern missionary, the martyr 
for gold, the advance guard of the army of material progress. 
And who will deny or make light of his virtue, his faith, such 
as it was ? His self-reliance was sublime. Compared to 
his, how small the daring and pluck of even Milton and 
Cheadle ! God save thee, John Glen, and give thee thy 
reward ! ' 

They were now travelling down the valley of the Thompson, 
and it was hard going. ' It was constant up and down as if 
we were riding over billows. Even where the ground was 
low, the cradle hills were high enough to make the road un- 
dulating. The valley of the Thompson is very narrow for 
a stream of its magnitude ; in fact it is a mountain gorge 
rather than a valley.' High wooded hills rose on either 
side, half-hiding, half-revealing ranges of glittering peaks. 
' The forest is of the grandest kind — not only the living 
but the dead. Everywhere around lie the prostrate forms 
of old giants in every stage of decay, some of them six 
to eight feet through, and an hundred and fifty to two 
hundred feet in length. Scarcely half-hiding these are 
broad-leaved plants and ferns in infinite variety, while the 
branchless columnar shafts of more modern cedars tower far 
up among the dark branches of spruce and hemlock, dwarfing 
the horse and his rider that creep along across their inter- 
laced roots and the mouldering bones of their great pre- 

The end of September brought Fleming and his party 
to Kamloops after a more or less eventful trip down the 
banks of the Thompson, passing Grand Canyon and Hell's 
Gate, where the waters of the river are forced raging and 
boiling through a gap not more than thirty feet wide. Here 
they encountered one of the characteristic supply-trains on 
its way up to T£te Jaune Cache — fifty-two mules led by a bell- 
horse and driven by four or five men representing as many 
different nationalities. ' Most of the mules were, with the 
exception of the long ears, wonderfully graceful creatures, 


and though laden with an average weight of three hundred 
pounds, stepped over rocks and roots firmly and lightly as if 
their loads were nothing/ 

Not far from Kamloops a visit was paid to one of the winter 
homes of the Siwash Indians. ' A deep and wide hole is dug 
in the ground, a strong pole with cross sticks like an upright 
ladder stuck in the centre, and then the house is built up with 
logs in conical form from the ground to near the top of the 
pole, space enough being left for the smoke and the inmates 
to get out. Robinson Crusoe-like, instead of a door, they 
use the ladder, and go in and out of the house during the 
winter by the chimney. As this is an inconvenient mode of 
egress they go out as seldom as possible ; and as the dogs 
live with the family, the filth that soon accumulates can 
easily be estimated, and so can the consequence, should one 
of them be attacked with fever or small-pox. They boast 
that these houses are " terrible warm ", and when the smoke 
and heat reach suffocation-point their simple remedy is to 
rush up the ladder into the air and roll themselves in the 
snow for a few minutes. In spring they emerge from their 
hibernation into open or tent life ; and in the autumn they 
generally find it easier to build a new house or bottle to shut 
themselves up in, than to clean out the old one.' 

From Kamloops, Fleming had a comparatively easy journey 
down to Lytton, at the junction of the Thompson and the 
Fraser, thence to Yale by the famous road, hewn in places 
out of the face of the rock hundreds of feet above the bed of 
the river ; and from Yale down the river by steamer to New 
Westminster. A pleasant sail through the Straits of 
Georgia, with a brief visit to Bute Inlet, brought the travel- 
lers to Vancouver Island and the pretty little city of Victoria 
on the 9th October — a little over three months from the day 
they left Halifax. 



In the summer of 1883, while in London, Fleming received 
a cablegram from the president of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway Company, asking him to disentangle a peculiar 
situation into which the railway had been brought through 
the anxiety of the Company to hasten its construction. At 
that time, although the rails were actually laid as far as 
Calgary at the eastern entrance to the mountains, there was 
as yet no certainty that the railway could be carried through 
by the southern route. In fact no white man had yet made 
his way across the Selkirk Range from east to west any- 
where near the line proposed for the Canadian Pacific 

Because of his wide knowledge of the general situation in 
the west, and of all the known routes through the mountains, 
the Company naturally turned to Sandford Fleming to help 
them out of the difficulty. 

He returned to Canada, and after a conference with the 
directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Montreal, 
started for the west, accompanied as on his former journey of 
1872 by his eldest son, and Dr. George M. Grant, who joined 
the party at Winnipeg. Their route was by rail to Toronto 
and Collingwood, from there by boat to Port Arthur, and 
thence by the newly completed line of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway to Winnipeg. After making necessary arrangements 
there, the journey was continued by rail to Calgary, the 
temporary terminus of the road. 

Fleming could not fail to be struck with the contrast 
between his present journey and that of 1872. ' When 
I crossed the continent eleven years ago,' he says, in his 
narrative of the present expedition, ' before Winnipeg as 


a city had even a name, I left Fort Garry on the 2nd August, 
and did not arrive in sight of the mountains until the 7th 
September. In that journey we did not spare ourselves 
or our horses, for we made over the prairies an average of over 
forty miles a day. On the present occasion we left Winnipeg 
on Monday morning, to come within sight of the mountains 
on Wednesday afternoon. The first journey occupied thirty- 
six days, and the last about fifty-six hours ! ' 

The problem now before the travellers was whether or not 
they could make their way across the two great ranges that 
lay between them and Kamloops, three hundred miles as the 
crow flies, but much longer as they must travel, as the route 
lay through peculiarly difficult country. 

Finally it was decided to go forward, it being understood 
that the country had been definitely explored as far at least 
as the summit of the Selkirks. Packers were secured, pro- 
visions purchased, and the party set out on their long journey. 
They had, however, scarcely entered the main range before 
disquieting news came from one of the resident engineers. 
' He had heard of no one having crossed the Selkirk Range. 
Major Rogers had made several attempts to do so, but he 
had only so far succeeded as to reach the summit, or one of 
the summits, but had not penetrated entirely through the 
mountains on a connected line. No one was known to have 
passed over from where we stood by the route before us to 
Kamloops ; not even an Indian, and it was questionable if it 
were possible to find a route which could be followed/ 

Fleming had no desire to assume the position of an 
original explorer, with the prospect of toiling onward for 
many days only to find himself in the end confronted by an 
absolutely impassable obstacle. It was understood, how- 
ever, that Major Rogers, who was in charge of exploratory 
work for the railway in the mountains, was at the mouth of 
the Kicking Horse, and a final decision whether to go forward 
or back to Calgary, and around to British Columbia through 
the United States, was reserved until his opinion had been 
obtained as to the possibilities of the proposed route through 
the mountains. 



The following day being Sunday was spent comfortably 
in the camp of the resident engineer. The weather was 
brilliantly clear and invigorating, and all anxiety as to the 
future was for the time thrown aside. ' Those living in 
cities ', says Fleming, ' can with difficulty understand the 
effect on the spirits and minds of men away from civilization 
of a bright, cheery Sunday. In all well-ordered expeditions 
Sunday is a day of rest, and this view alone, denuded entirely 
of all religious feeling, which is to some extent dependent 
on early education, creates a scene of quiet and repose not 
always experienced to the same extent in civilized communi- 
ties. To one bred like myself in the strict views of the 
Presbyterian Church, there is something more than this 
sentiment : it is as if you held it a privilege on these remote 
mountains to pay homage to the lessons of your youth, 
not from the merely mechanical acceptance of them, but 
from a heartfelt sense of their truth. I have felt, on such 
occasions, a sense of peace and freedom from the carping 
cares of life I never could explain ; but that the thought 
is not peculiar to myself many circumstances have shown. 
You seem, as it were, at such times, only to commune with 
nature, and to be free from all that is false and meretricious 
in our civilization. You are beyond the struggles and petty 
personalities of the world, and you feel how really and truly 
life is better and happier as it is more simple/ 

The scene is a memorable one. They are encamped 
within the threshold of one of the gateways through the 
mountains. ' The sun lit up in warm colours the great moun- 
tains encircling the valley. We were surrounded by these 
magnificent heights. Our camp was but a few miles distant 
from the valley, which leaves Bow River for the Vermilion 
Pass. The atmosphere was not so clear as we could wish, 
and the distant peaks were invisible. We had, nevertheless, 
a remarkable view of the towering battlements to the north, 
in themselves so lofty and so near to us, and the details so 
intricate that it would be impossible to portray them within 
the limits of ordinary canvas/ 

To this point they had been driven over a fairly good road, 



but, from now on, the trail must be followed on horseback, or 
probably sometimes on foot. To harden themselves to the 
saddle they therefore spent the latter part of the afternoon 
in riding up the valley about twelve miles, between moun- 
tains of the grandest description. ' To the south two heights 
of great prominence present themselves. They command 
a view of the depression leading to the Vermilion Pass. 
One of the peaks is crowned with perpetual snow, and is of 
striking beauty. The other has a cubical form of summit. 
A third, at no great distance, is pyramidal, and so on in every 
conceivable variety these mountains tower above us. West- 
ward we see Castle Mountain to our right. The resemblance 
to Cyclopean masonry has doubtless suggested the name, 
for it is marked by huge masses of castellated-looking work, 
with turreted flanks. After passing through a mile of burnt 
pine wood at its base, we reach Spillman's camp where we 
stay for the night. The fires in the valley are extinguished, 
but they are still running up the mountain side, and as night 
comes on the flames gleam with a weird light. We soon 
wrapped ourselves in our blankets. Although with a certain 
sense of fatigue, I could not sleep. My thoughts reverted 
to the journey before us. Uncertainty seemed to increase 
as we advanced.' 

The next morning they continue their journey, following 
the banks of the Bow River, still a fairly large stream. 
Great peaks tower above them on every side. ' One is 
crested like a huge camel's back ; one rises to a sharp cone ; 
a third has the appearance of an extinct volcano, and the 
crumbling edge of the crater reveals the glacier within.' 

A day or two later they reach the summit of the Kicking 
Horse Pass, and camp there. ' To-night we fall asleep on 
the continental " Divide ". Hitherto we have passed over 
ground draining to the east. To-morrow we follow a stream 
flowing into the waters of the Pacific' 

They are up at half-past five, on a cold sharp morning, the 
horses are packed, and they start down the western slope 
toward the Columbia. 

' It was a rugged and broken path which we entered upon. 


To our right two conspicuous twin summits were standing 
out in the range. The water of the streams which we were 
following was more heard than seen, for the trail exacted 
all our attention. Our horses were moving among sharp 
broken granite rocks and fallen trees. In about half an 
hour we passed by the side of Summit Lake. The northern 
mountains were now concealed from view by a forest of 
spruce through which we were passing. To the south the 
landscape is more magnificent than ever ; a bold, rocky 
bluff rises thousands of feet directly in front of us, while 
mountains of great height, in groups, tower above it to the 
right and left. Some of them have crater-shaped peaks 
filled with snow. Our progress is slow, and much interfered 
with by the pack-horses getting continually off the trail and 
losing part of their load. 

' We pass the second mountain lake, and about four miles 
from our morning camp we reach the third and largest lake, 
about a mile in length. We cross the path of a great snow 
slide, an avalanche divided into two forks, one about fifty 
yards and the other about one hundred and fifty yards wide. 
Thousands of trees, two and three feet in diameter, have been 
broken into shreds by it, and roots, trunks, and branches, in 
a tangled mass, have been swept away, and, with a multitude 
of boulders of all dimensions, hurled into the lake to form 
a promontory of which three or four hundred feet still remain. 
To the south, beyond the lake, the eye rests upon a mighty 
mountain, streaked by snow-filled crevices, and reflected 
in the bright, glassy lake, presenting to our eyes a most 
striking picture. We cross the outlet by fording a stream 
some forty feet wide and about sixteen inches in depth. 
I looked upon it with no little interest, for it is the stream we 
are to follow for some days. There is often a history lying 
behind the nomenclature of these waters and peaks, and in 
the present instance it is said that Dr. Hector, who accom- 
panied the Palliser expedition, was kicked not far from this 
spot. The Indians have translated it Shawata-nowchata- 
wapta — Horse-Kicking River.' 

So the journey runs day after day, the mountain trail 


sometimes high up on the mountain side and again following 
the gravel banks of the river. The morning's start is made 
in all kinds of weather, sometimes clear, oftener dull, and 
again in drenching rain. One day they set out in the midst 
of a dense fog. ' The mist hung like a thick curtain, con- 
cealing everything not directly near the camp-fire. But we 
start ; the six pack-horses in front with their loads standing 
out from their backs, giving the creatures the appearance 
of so many dromedaries. Dave rides ahead with the bell- 
horse, then the pack-horses follow, and the horsemen bring 
up the rear to see that none stray behind. Our journey this 
day was over exceedingly rough ground. We have to cross 
gorges so narrow that a biscuit might be thrown from the 
last horse descending, to the bell-horse six hundred feet 
ahead, ascending the opposite side. The fires have been 
running through the wood and are still burning ; many of 
the half -burnt trees have been blown down, probably by the 
gale of last night, obstructing the trail and making advance 
extremely difficult. ' 

The road does not improve as they advance, and for mile 
after mile it leads through burnt and fallen timber. ' For- 
tunately there was no wind. The air was still and quiet, 
otherwise we would have ran the risk of blackened trunks 
falling around us, possibly upon the animals or ourselves, 
even at the best seriously to have impeded our progress, if 
such a mischance did not make an advance impossible, until 
the wind should moderate. We move forward down and 
up gorges hundreds of feet deep, amongst rocky masses, 
where the poor horses had to clamber as best they could 
amid sharp points and deep crevices, running the constant 
risk of a broken leg. The trail now takes another character. 
A series of precipices run sheer up from the boiling current 
to form a contracted canyon. A path has therefore been 
traced along the hill side, ascending to the elevation of some 
seven or eight hundred feet. For a long distance not a 
vestige of vegetation is to be seen. On the steep acclivity 
our line of advance is narrow, so narrow that there is scarcely 
a foothold ; nevertheless we have to follow for some six 


miles this thread of trail, which seemed to us by no means 
in excess of the requirements of the chamois and the moun- 
tain goat. 

1 We cross clay, rock, and gravel slides at a giddy height. 
To look down gives one an uncontrollable dizziness, to make 
the head swim and the view unsteady, even with men of 
tried nerve. I do not think I can ever forget that terrible 
walk ; it was the greatest trial I ever experienced. We are 
from five to eight hundred feet high on a path of from ten to 
fifteen inches wide and at some points almost obliterated, 
with slopes above and below us so steep that a stone would 
roll into the torrent in the abyss below.' 

About three miles from the mouth of the Kicking Horse 
Valley they meet Major Rogers, and continue down with him 
to his camp on the banks of the Columbia. 

From Major Rogers, Fleming learns to his immense relief 
that he has discovered a pass through the Selkirks by way of 
Beaver River and the Illecellewaet, and that a pack trail 
has been opened to the summit and a short way down the 
Illecellewaet. Beyond that point ' we have the wilderness 
in its native ruggedness, without a path for the human foot, 
with the river and mountain gorges only as landmarks and 
guides \ They must descend the Illecellewaet to the second 
crossing of the Columbia, and get through the Gold Range by 
way of Eagle Pass, and so to Kamloops on the North Thomp- 
son — and civilization once more. 

After a day's rest they are off again, accompanied by 
Major Rogers for a portion of the journey. His nephew, 
Albert Rogers, is to go through with them to Kamloops. 
They descend the Columbia in a canoe to the mouth of 
Beaver River, where they are joined by the pack train, and 
camp for the night. 

At daybreak they are climbing up the Beaver Valley, over 
a very rough trail, but thankful for small mercies, as they 
are coming to a point where there will be no trail whatever. 
The following morning they reach the summit through a 
rugged mountain defile, and turn down the western slope, 
noting for the first time the since famous Illecellewaet Glacier. 


Twenty-four miles from the summit they come to the end 
of the trail. It has been poor enough, but travelling over 
it is luxury to what lies before them. 

' Last night it rained hard, with thunder and lightning. 
This morning everything is wet, and the trees are dripping in 
all directions ; not a pleasant prospect for those who have 
to travel under them. There is, however, no halting in 
a journey such as ours. Our horses have left us. They were 
driven back to find pasture last night. The men must now 
carry on their shoulders what we require, through an un- 
trodden forest without path or trail of any kind. Clothing, 
tents, food and a few cooking utensils constitute what we 
have to bring with us. Fortunately we can always find 
water. It is a matter of some calculation and care putting 
these articles into proper packs, but the task is finally 
accomplished. . . . 

' The walking is dreadful ; we climb over and creep under 
fallen trees of great size, and the men soon show that they 
feel the weight of their burdens. Their halts for rest are 
frequent. It is hot work for us all. The dripping rain 
from the bush and branches saturate us from above. Tall 
ferns sometimes reaching to the shoulder, and devil's clubs 
through which we had to crush our way, make us feel as if 
dragged through a horse-pond, and our perspiration is that 
of a Turkish bath. We meet with obstacles of every descrip- 
tion. The devil's clubs may be numbered by millions, and 
they are perpetually wounding us with their spikes against 
which we strike. We halt very frequently for rest. Our 
advance is varied by ascending rocky slopes and slippery 
masses, and again descending to a lower level. We wade 
through alder swamps and tread down skunk cabbage and 
the prickly aralias, and so we continue until half-past four, 
when the tired-out men are unable to go further. A halt 
becomes necessary. We camp for the night on a high bank 
overlooking the Illecellewaet. . . . Our advance on a direct 
line we estimate at four miles.' Not much to show for a long 
and hard day's work ! 

Sunday is no longer a day of rest. Supplies are limited, 


and they must push on or face the possibility of starvation. 
The conditions are disheartening. ' We make little headway, 
and every tree, every leaf, is wet and casts off the rain. In 
a short time we are as drenched as the foliage. We have many 
fallen trees to climb over, and it is no slight matter to struggle 
over trees ten feet and upwards in diameter. We have rocks 
to ascend and descend ; we have a marsh to cross in which 
we sink often to the middle. For half a mile we have waded, 
I will not say picked, our way to the opposite side, through 
a channel filled with stagnant water, having an odour long 
to be remembered. Skunk cabbage is here indigenous, and 
is found in acres of stinking perfection. We clamber to the 
higher ground, hoping to find an easier advance, and we come 
upon the trail of a cariboo, but it leads to the mountains. 
We try another course, only to become entangled in a wind- 
fall of prostrate trees. The rain continues falling inces- 
santly : the men, with heavy loads on their heads, made 
heavier by the water which has soaked into them, become 
completely disheartened, and at half-past two o'clock we 
decide to camp. Our travelling to-day extended only over 
three hours, we have not advanced above a mile and a half 
of actual distance, and we all suffer greatly from fatigue. I 
question if our three days' march has carried us further 
than ten miles.' 

So the journey goes day after day, with little relief from 
the interminable succession of swamps, tangled underbrush, 
and fallen timber. At last they emerge from the canyon of 
the Illecellewaet and reach the second crossing of the Colum- 
bia, with Eagle Pass directly opposite. 

Here supplies from Kamloops were to have met the party, 
but to their disappointment and dismay there is no sign 
of the men. Only a few days' provisions remain, and the 
journey over the Gold Range is trailless and difficult. The 
following morning, however, brings the missing men — but 
as if every conceivable obstacle were to be placed in their 
way, Fleming learns that instead of bringing the supplies 
with them, they have cached them at a point five days 
distant. Yet he can see, though grimly enough, the ridi- 

In the Heart of the Mountains 


culous side of the situation. ' We were in the heart of a 
desert and asked for bread. We did not even get a stone, 
but we met five hungry Indians ready to devour the little 
store we had brought with us.' 

By putting every one on very short rations and travelling 
by forced marches, they manage to reach the cached pro- 
visions. Their troubles are now over. With plenty of 
food the remainder of the journey becomes a simple tramp 
through the forest. The trail presently brings them to 
a good wagon road, and that to Shuswap Lake, where 
a steamer is waiting to take them on to Kamloops. 



In July 1876, having been relieved of his duties in con- 
nexion with the surveys and construction of the Inter- 
colonial, Sandford Fleming took a well-earned vacation. 
With his wife and six children he sailed from Quebec on the 
1 6th of that month, and after a quick and pleasant passage 
landed at Londonderry on the 23rd. A day was spent in 
visiting the Giant's Causeway, another at Belfast and Lord 
Dufferin's Irish estate Clandeboye, and then off by boat for 

An attempt was made to see Loch Long and Loch Lomond, 
but a depressingly persistent Scotch mist enveloped the 
west coast, and their enthusiasm was but half-hearted. As 
they waited in Glasgow, with what patience they could com- 
mand, for some change in the weather, Sandford Fleming was 
reminded of his visit to the old town in 1863. 

' I was a passenger on the United Kingdom, due at Glasgow. 
She had passed up the Clyde during the night, and arrived 
opposite the Broomielaw in the early morning. ... I was im- 
patient to get ashore, to touch the sacred ground of my 
native land.' This was his first visit since he had left 
Scotland in 1845. ' I arose that morning one of the first of 
the passengers, before the stewards were visible. ... A boat 
came to the side. I jumped into her and went ashore. 
I strolled along the quay. My foot was not literally on 
" my native heath ", but I enjoyed intensely the pleasure 
we all feel in revisiting our native shores, and in being near 
the scenes from which we have been long absent. Every- 
thing seemed so fresh and charming. I had no definite pur- 
pose in my wandering, but I was at home ; it was Scotland. 

' In my semi-reverie I was interrupted by a young voice 
in the purest Clydesdale Doric saying, " Hae yer butes 


brushed ? " I looked down mechanically at my feet, and 
found that the cabin bootblack of our vessel had neglected 
this duty. . . . Moreover, it was the first word addressed to 
myself, and I should have felt bound to accept the offer if 
it had been unnecessary in the fullest sense. I commenced 
conversation with the boy. He was very young. I sum- 
moned to my aid my best Scotch for the occasion. His 
name was Willie Gordon, and he told me his widowed mother 
was a washerwoman, that he had a number of brothers and 
sisters younger than himself, that his earnings amounted to 
about half a crown a week, and that between him and his 
mother they managed to earn ten shillings in that time. 
" And how do you live, Willie ? " I asked. " Reel well ", 
he replied with the cheeriest of voices. 

f " And now, Willie," I said, when I had paid him his fee, 
"it is many years since I have been here. I want to see 
the places of greatest interest in Glasgow." " Ou, sir/' he 
promptly replied, " ye shuld gang ta see Corbett's eatin 
noose." " Do you know the way there ? " I asked. 
" Fine, sir. I ken the way vary weel. I'll gang wi ye tae 
the door," and his face looked even happier than before. 
I accepted his guidance, and, if my recollection is correct, 
the place was in Jamaica Street. The boy walked by my 
side carrying his brushes and box, and chatted gaily of him- 
self and his life. Apparently no prince could be happier. 

1 We reached the renowned establishment he had named. 
It was a species of home which a benevolent citizen had 
instituted, on the same principle on which the coffee taverns 
are now established : to furnish an early hot cup of tea or 
coffee to men going to work, to offer some other refreshment 
than whisky and beer, to give a meal at cost price with all 
the comfort possible, with cleanliness, good cheer, and airy 
rooms, warm in winter. 

'After some hesitation, and persuasion on my part, Willie 
shyly entered with me. The menu was on the wall. Porridge 
and milk one penny, large cup of coffee one penny, bread and 
butter, thick, one penny, eggs and toast one penny, &c, 
everything one penny. . . . We were a little early even for that 


establishment, so Willie and I sat down. The buxom matron 
gave us some account of the place and its doings. The Duke 
of Argyle had dined with her a few days before. She told 
us the establishment was well patronized and prosperous. 

1 The time soon came for our order, for we were the first 
to be served. I set forth what I required for myself, and 
that was no light breakfast as I had a sea appetite sharpened 
by the early morning walk. I directed the attendant to 
bring the same order in double proportions for the boy, so 
that we had a splendid dejeuner. My little companion was 
in ecstasies. Never was hospitality bestowed on a more 
grateful recipient. He would not leave me, and he seemed 
bound to make a morning of it, and from time to time 
graciously volunteered, " I'll tak ye ony gait, sir." His 
customers were forgotten, but I trust he did not suffer from 
his devotion to me, for I did my best to remedy his neglect 
of professional duty. He followed me from place to place, 
carrying the implements of his day's work, and he seemed 
anxious to do something for the trifling kindness I had shown 
him and the few pence I had paid for his breakfast. 

* But I was more than compensated by the pleasure I my- 
self received. I listened to all he said with fresh interest, 
for he was open, earnest, honest and simple-minded. He was 
deeply attached to his mother, and was evidently proud to be 
able to add to her slender earnings, which were just enough 
to keep her and her family from want. He certainly seemed 
determined to do all in his power to make her comfortable. 

' He never lost sight of me till I left by the eleven o'clock 
train, and my last remembrance of Glasgow, as the train 
moved out, was seeing Willie waving his brushes and boot- 
box enthusiastically in the air. I often wonder what Willie's 
fate is. He appeared to me to be of the material to succeed 
in life. In Canada he certainly would have worked his way 
up. I never heard of him again, but I certainly shall not 
be greatly astonished to hear of Sir William Gordon, dis- 
tinguished Lord Provost of Glasgow.' 

But to return to the party of 1876. Defying the weather, 
they are off for Oban where they spend Sunday. St. Columba 


Church offers significant evidence of the prevailing conditions, 
in a rack for umbrellas at the end of each pew, and provision 
for waterproofs at the back of the church. ' It rained ', says 
Sandford Fleming's journal, ' without intermission the whole 
day.' The following morning it is still coming down in 
torrents. ' The kind landlord of the inn does his best for us 
by keeping his barometer fixed at set fair, but without result/ 
Some of the party manage to visit the ruined castles of 
Dunstaffnage and Dunolly, and are reminded of the story 
of the Stone of Destiny. 

The next day they take a small steamer to Iona and Staff a. 
As the boat threads her way through the somewhat intricate 
entrance to the Sound of Iona, they get their first glimpse 
of the venerable cathedral. They land in large boats, and 
are welcomed by a number of small girls with shells and other 
odds and ends to sell. Iona is about three miles long by one 
broad, much of it bare rock, with no trees of any kind. ' It 
possesses now no natural attractions that one can perceive, 
except solitude.' 

They were taken to see the ruins of the nunnery, and the 
chapel of St. Orain, the most ancient of all the buildings on 
the island. Orain was one of the disciples of St. Columba. 
Then to the cathedral, with its associations of days long gone 
by. ' One cannot view these ruins of hoary antiquity with- 
out being impressed, and it somewhat grates on the ear to be 
obliged to hear the flat jest of some Yankee tourist.' Near 
by is the cross of St. Martin, and the tombs of the kings, 
where forty-two of the rulers of Scotland are said to lie 
buried, as well as several of the ancient Irish kings, and 
even some from Norway. Here, too, are the tombs of the 
McLeans, once an all-powerful clan in this part of Scotland. 
Macbeth is supposed to be the last Scottish king buried in 
Iona. The visitors are particularly impressed with the 
peculiar sharpness of the carvings and inscriptions, after 
having weathered the storms of centuries. 

From Iona they are carried over to the island of Staffa, to 
have a look at Fingal's Cave. The island is uninhabited 
except by a few highland cattle. ' As we draw near to the 


great cave we descend by steps from the top to the bottom 
of the cliff, and walk over a rough floor of broken basaltic 
columns. The prisms are generally larger than at the 
Giant's Causeway ; here they will measure on an average 
from 2 -3 to 3 feet across, while those at the Causeway are 
not half that size. The latter, however, are more regular 
and embrace a larger proportion of perfect hexagons. The 
columns are of considerable height where exposed, probably 
over thirty feet, and in places much bent. The cave itself 
is probably seventy-five feet from the water-level to the roof, 
and the clear width fifty or sixty feet. The channel through 
which the sea surges is probably not over twenty feet wide. 
The Cave of Fingal is not wonderful on account of its great 
size — there are larger caves — but there is nothing like these 
walls of columns ; and no cathedral has such music as the sea 
produces in this temple of nature. 

' The contrast between Iona and Staffa is striking enough, 
lona takes us back to almost prehistoric times ; Staffa brings 
us face to face with the everlasting. There we had the 
century-long work of man ; here we see the indelible record 
of the great forces of nature, at work to-day as they were 
countless ages ago. 

' As we return, Iona is visible for a time in the distance. 
We can dimly see the old ruins, and with this exception the 
eye traces the very outlines traced in Columba's time some 
1,300 years ago. The rocks are so hard that any changes 
they may have undergone are practically inappreciable.' 

It had been planned to engage an open wagonette to 
carry the party through the Highlands, but the morning 
opening with a dense Scotch mist, ' if anything, worse than 
rain for wetting one through ', the wagonette was abandoned 
in favour of a light omnibus, roomy enough to carry six or 
seven inside with the luggage on top. With no very grave 
regrets they take leave of the weeping western coast, and set 
their faces toward the sunny side of Scotland. 

The rain follows them for a time, but they have opportunity 
to enjoy delightful glimpses of lofty mountains and deep 
glens, sparkling lakes, with here and there a ruined castle 


whose romantic story is dear to the heart of every Scotch- 
man. At Callander the rugged Highlands soften down to 
modest braes. They rest at Stirling to have an opportunity 
of seeing the grand old castle, and the Church of the Grey 
Friars, where three hundred years before James VI had been 
crowned, and John Knox had held forth. The following 
day they climb Abbey Craig, to see the Wallace Monument, 
and enjoy the wonderful view from the summit, castles and 
ivy-covered ruins, the historic field of Bannockburn, and the 
range of the Ochil Hills. From Stirling they take the train 
for Sandford Fleming's boyhood home, Kirkcaldy. 

A day is spent in Edinburgh, then gay with flags and 
banners in honour of the Queen who is making a state visit 
to the Scottish capital. They have a good view of the 
royal procession from the windows of the National Bank of 
Scotland ; the small Canadians cheer, and are rewarded with 
a gracious bow from Her Majesty. 

After a short visit to St. Andrews and Dundee, they turn 
to the south and reach London September 9th, having Sir 
John Rose, formerly Minister of Finance of Canada, as 
a fellow passenger from Edinburgh. Leaving his family 
here, Sandford Fleming, after visiting some friends near 
Portsmouth and at Torquay, took the train to Penzance and 
then drove on to Land's End. 

1 At Penzance I find an old lumbering one-horse carriage 
waiting for me. For some miles the road passes through an 
avenue of beautiful old trees planted by the wayside, but 
four or five miles bring us to a treeless district. For the 
remainder of the sixteen miles no vegetation larger than 
a whin bush is to be seen. But the whins are turned to 
account in a way that I have not heard of elsewhere. They 
not only form the fences of the fields, but they are used for 
fuel. Each house or hut has its stack of whin carefully 
secured for winter use, just as you see turf in Ireland and 
peat in Scotland. It seems to be the only fuel used in this 
part of England. 

* In due time, after an interesting drive through a bleak, 
unproductive-looking country, we reach Land's End. The 



horse is placed in the last stable in England, and we find 
ourselves in the last house in England, which is a small 
stone building, where it appears we can get a chop and a glass 
of Bass of the red pyramid brand, precisely the same as that 
which regaled our palates four years ago in the heart of the 
Rocky Mountains. 

1 Lunch for self and driver being ordered, I walked to the 
edge of the cliff and amused myself making some rude 
sketches of the end of England. First looking westerly 
towards Canada, then southerly, then northerly across the 
world of waters. Not a solitary object is to be seen except 
the lighthouse perched on a rock due west, and the smoke of 
a steamer on the southern horizon. Here is a place to rest, 
away from the busy world, but perhaps the extreme silence 
and repose of Land's End would soon become more irksome 
than the clangour of busy London. 

' Returning to the little inn I found lunch ready, and to 
my surprise another gentleman partaking of similar refresh- 
ment in the little room into which I was shown. Land's End 
is but thinly populated and has but few visitors in the late 
autumn, so I was pleased to see some one with whom I could 
exchange words. Forgetting the reticence of Englishmen who 
have not been introduced, I on the impulse of the moment 
broke through all rules and addressed my new friend cheerily 
as I entered the room, " Rather raw to-day." 

' To this advance there was no response whatever. He 
went on with his knife and fork, ignoring my presence and 
existence. There was nothing left but to do likewise, and 
there at Land's End, away from civilized England, at a place 
almost as solitary and dreary as the North Pole, two men 
met and dined together at the same table in absolute silence. 

' In due time the meal was over, the bill paid, the horse 
in the carriage, and the return journey commenced. We 
had not proceeded more than half a mile when we passed 
my dining companion. Curiosity led me to inquire if the 
driver happened to know who he was. I was promptly 
informed, " Oh, that is a deaf and dumb gentleman who 
stays here." ' 


Christmas was spent quietly in London with his family, 
a cable conveying best wishes from the staff of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway adding to the happiness of the occasion. 
Glancing in the newspapers a few days later, Fleming was 
agreeably surprised to see his own name in the list of New 
Year's honours, for a C.M.G. 

Matters in connexion with the transcontinental railway 
requiring his presence in Ottawa, he sailed from Liverpool 
on the Polynesian. An incident of the voyage was a gale in 
mid-ocean which tested the seaworthiness of the big ship. 
' Dressed in the dark and went on deck ', one reads in his 
journal. ' The barometer was very low, the sea raging and 
tossing the huge ship about at its wild will, the waves 
occasionally washing across the decks, the vessel rolling until 
her upper decks touched the water, and the barometer 
swinging in the companion way some forty degrees to one 
side of the perpendicular. Sometimes heavy rain squalls 
would sweep by, between which the nearly full moon would 
break forth throwing a flood of light across the wild turmoil 
of waters through which we were slowly fighting our way/ 

Soon after his return to Ottawa, Fleming was given 
a complimentary dinner by the members of his staff. In 
responding to his own toast as the guest of the evening, he 
paid a warm tribute to the engineers who had been associated 
with him in surveys and construction work on the Canadian 
Pacific Railway. 

' Those who know me best ', he said, * will in some degree 
appreciate my embarrassment in finding myself in this 
prominent position — they will fully understand the difficulty 
I labour under in endeavouring to express even faintly, how 
much I feel this mark of kindness and attention. Engineers, 
as you all know, are not as a rule gifted with many words. 
Men so gifted generally aim at achieving renown in some 
other sphere — the pulpit, the press, the bar, perhaps the 
bench is open to them ; some may even venture on the sea 
of politics ; they may dream of reaching some day or other 
a pinnacle of honour and power such as that now occupied by 
one distinguished man, whom I am proud to see at this table. 



They would not, indeed they could not, all succeed were they 
ever so richly endowed — one in four millions or so, might 
possibly rise to a position approaching that level. Silent 
men, such as we are, can have no such ambition ; they cannot 
hope for profit or place in law, they cannot look for fame in 
the press or the pulpit, and, above all things, they must 
keep clear of politics. Engineers must plod on in a distinct 
sphere of their own, dealing less with words and more with 
deeds, less with men than with matter ; nature in her wild 
state presents difficulties for them to overcome. It is the 
business of their life to do battle against these difficulties and 
make smooth the path on which others are to tread. It is 
their privilege to stand between these two great forces, 
capital and labour, and by acting justly at all times between 
the employer and the employed, they may hope to command 
the respect of those above them equally with those under 
them. Gentlemen, many of us, indeed most of us, were 
gathered together about a year ago, but some, then here, are 
not here now. I, for one, regret their absence ; we greatly 
miss their kindly countenances around the table, maybe hope 
that on some future happy reunion, when they have finished 
their work or obtained a respite from their labours, in the 
wilds beyond Lake Superior, they and we may see each other. 
Some, I see to-night, who were not present with us twelve 
months ago. They were then far away on the plains, in the 
woods, or in the mountains, doing their share of work, and 
well have they done it. If affords me the greatest possible 
pleasure to see them back in civilization once more. None 
have earned all the comforts and enjoyments of a brief sojourn 
with their friends more than they have. All England the 
other day gave a hearty British welcome to some of her sons 
who attempted to reach the North Pole. Glad was I to join 
in their cheers and rejoicings ; these brave British sailors 
had earned them all. Those I now refer to, seated at this 
table and some others who are not here, endured, I venture 
to say, hardships and deprivations scarcely less severe than 
many of the members of the Polar Expedition. Our men, 
however, did something more than the Arctic travellers. 


True, our engineers came back, some with scurvy, some with 
constitutions more or less shaken ; but they returned with 
the great satisfaction of having accomplished, and most 
satisfactorily accomplished, the tasks they were sent to 
perform. Let me, therefore, ask those whom I had the great 
pleasure of meeting in this room a year ago, to join me in 
tendering a warm welcome to those who were then absent. 
My friend quite near me knows how much interested I am 
in the whole staff, how much I value them individually. 
He knows, and you all know, that I am not given to paying 
compliments when they are not deserved, but I am bound to 
acknowledge that at no time in Canada, perhaps at no time 
anywhere, was there ever such a staff of engineers in the 
service of any country. They have had long years of special 
training for their several duties. They are inured almost like 
Indians to the hardships which the geographical, climatic, 
and other conditions of the country require them occasionally 
to encounter, and I feel that I am justified in saying they are 
largely endowed with an enthusiasm which helps men to 
accomplish great deeds. Such being the character of the 
staff, I may be forgiven for entertaining feelings of pride in 
being connected with a body of men of this kind. Indeed, 
we may all be pardoned for taking an honest pride in a credit- 
able connexion of any sort with so gigantic a national under- 
taking as the Canadian Pacific Railway. I am not going to 
weary you by dilating on this theme ; I shall only add that 
I found not a few men in England who knew something of 
the great country through which the railway is being con- 
structed, and who take the greatest possible interest in the 
work we have in hand. Six weeks ago this very evening it was 
my good fortune to dine with some of these men. I had the 
famous Dr. Cheadle on one side, and on the other the equally 
celebrated Captain Palliser. These gentlemen never ceased 
to inquire about our doings, and they were beyond measure 
surprised to learn that the iron horse had started on his march 
from Thunder Bay — that the telegraph, the harbinger of the 
railway, was already at Edmonton. I have, however, re- 
minded you that it is the business of engineers to act, and not 


to say much. I have already hinted that although we deal 
largely with figures, they are not figures of speech. I think, 
therefore, that I should act professionally and become 
silent, leaving perhaps the best part of my speech unsaid. 
I must, however, again heartily thank you all for this 
magnificent welcome home, and I must especially thank 
the Honourable the Premier, as well as the other guests 
whom I see here, for their kindness in coming to-night to 
take part in a reunion which will long remain green in my 

Two years later Fleming again found himself in the capital 
of the Empire, and in an interval of leisure went out to 
Chelsea and called at 5 Cheyne Row, with a note of intro- 
duction to Carlyle. It had long been his desire to meet face 
to face the great prophet of the nineteenth century. While 
in Kirkcaldy he had spoken of this to Provost Swan, an old 
and intimate friend of Carlyle, and the Provost had gladly 
given him a letter of introduction. 

Arrived at Cheyne Row, Fleming knocked at the door ; 
a young maid came, and he asked, ' May I see Mr. Carlyle ? ' 
with a queer feeling that he should have asked for Tom 

' I will see/ she replied, ' but Mr. Carlyle seldom meets 
any one now but old friends.' 

' I am afraid I cannot claim entrance on that plea,' he said, 
' but perhaps you will take him this note.' 

He was shown into a dingy little room. In a few moments 
the maid returned and took him up to Carlyle 's own room — 
a large room, he noted, with many books about the walls, but 
only one picture, that of Cromwell. 

Carlyle met him at the door with a friendly shake of the 
hand, and they talked for a time of their mutual friend the 
Provost, and of other men and things in Kirkcaldy. 

* When were you born ? ' he asked. 

1 The same year ', replied Fleming, ' that your friend 
Edward Irving came to preach in the parish church, and 
there were so many people in the gallery that it nearly 
collapsed and caused a panic.' 


* Ah, yes, I remember,' he said. ' That was one of the 
finest men that ever lived ; at least the best that I have 
ever known/ He spoke about Irving's life in London and 
elsewhere. ' He went far wrong in the end, but he was a 
great and good man. You will find an account of him in 
a book by a Mrs. Oliphant, the woman that writes novels. 
There are a few good things in the book/ he added, with 
a sly twinkle in his eye, ' some of Irving's letters/ 

The conversation drifted to Canada, with many shrewd 
questions and comments as to the conditions of life in the 
new land. The recent death there of Carlyle's brother 
x\lexander lent a personal note to the subject. The vast 
possibilities and human significance of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway appealed to him, and the political and social 
experiments that were being worked out in this younger 
Britain beyond the seas. 

' At last ', says Fleming, * I felt that I had occupied enough 
of his time, and prepared to make my farewell. As I got up 
to leave I told Mr. Carlyle how impossible it was to say what 
pleasure it had given me to have the opportunity of talking 
to the author of Sartor Resartus. With that he grasped my 
hand and held it firmly for perhaps ten minutes, while with 
brightening eyes he gave me an outline of the birth of the 
great classic. "Do you know", he said finally, "it took 
me eight years to write that little book }"* 

A slight aftermath of the interview is found in the Descrip- 
tive Catalogue of the Carlyle' s House Memorial Trust. Among 
the books listed in the Back Dining-Room is the following : 
' Fleming, S. Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway, 
1877. Presentation copy/ 

Before returning to Canada in 1878, Fleming paid a short 
visit to Paris to see the great exhibition. Leaving his hotel 
one morning, he met two gentlemen, one of whom he recog- 
nized as Sir John Rose. Rose turned to his companion and 
said, ' Your Royal Highness, let me present to you my friend 
Mr. Fleming/ The Prince of Wales chatted with him for 
a moment, and they passed on. The next day Fleming 
received a note from the Prince's secretary to attend His 


Royal Highness at the opera that evening in his private 

He found his way to the royal box, and presently the 
Prince arrived and took an arm-chair in the middle of the box, 
inviting Fleming to sit beside him. He talked for some time 
about Canada, showing himself remarkably well informed as 
to the course of current events. Fleming reminded him that 
he had had the honour of travelling with him from Toronto 
to Collingwood in i860, and the Prince questioned him with 
evident interest as to the changes that had taken place in 
Toronto during the past eighteen years. 

The following day, Fleming again met the Prince on the 
streets, walking alone with a friend. He evidently felt as 
secure in Paris as in London. 

In March of the following year, Fleming lost his father. 
Andrew Greig Fleming had followed his sons to Canada in 
1847, and since 1854 na d made his home at Craigleigh, near 
Collingwood, with David, who it will be remembered had 
come out in 1845. Of eight children, three sons survived at 
that time : Sandford and David, and Alexander, who had 
remained in Scotland. 

A note in the diary for 1879 * s suggestive of Fleming's 
manifold interests and activities. Under date of July 9, it 
reads : ' At sea [on way to England], busy correcting proofs 
of Short Daily Prayers for Busy Households.' 

The diary for 1880 furnishes random glimpses of the hard- 
working engineer resting for a week or two on the banks of 
the Metapedia. 

' July 11. Salmon fishing on the Metapedia. Dined with 
George Stephen [now Lord Mount Stephen] and Lord 

'12. Prince Leopold and Princess Louise arrived — 
guests of the Stephens — our camp directly opposite theirs — 
George M. Grant also arrived — we had a splendid bonfire. 

1 13. Preparing for canoe trip down Metapedia. Prince 
Leopold and the Princess sent word they would like to see 
us. Had few minutes with them before starting in our three 


' 14. Lunch and dinner with Donald A. Smith [afterward 
Lord Strathcona] who lives in Peter Grant's old house. 
Arranging for a start up the Restigouche. 

1 15. Left Metapedia with canoes and Indians. Lunched 
with Duke of Beaufort, an enthusiastic sportsman. Frank 
landed a twenty-five pound salmon. I lost one in gaffing — 
almost hooked another — finally landed two— very tired.' 


Probably none other of the great projects associated with 
the name of Fleming more strikingly illustrates his sheer 
tenacity of purpose, — quiet, unostentatious, almost apolo- 
getic, but none the less compelling, — than the movement for 
a British, state-owned cable across the Pacific. From 1879, 
when he first broached the subject in a letter to F. N. Gis- 
borne, Superintendent of the Telegraph and Signal Service 
of Canada, to 1902, when the cable was actually laid across 
the Pacific from Vancouver Island to New Zealand and 
Australia, he kept the matter alive not only in Canada but in 
England and Australasia ; kept it alive, and moving, though 
the forces arrayed against him, open and hidden, were 
enough to have daunted even a man of strong and untiring 

It was, indeed, a long and uphill fight against tremendous 
odds. Fleming had to overcome first of all the apathy and 
indifference of the people of the great self-governing colonies ; 
then the masterly inactivity of the British Government ; 
finally the active, resourceful, and powerful opposition of the 
group of wealthy cable companies which held a monopoly 
of the business between England and Australia, and, natur- 
ally enough, were loath to part with it. Nevertheless, 
patience and perseverance won, as they generally do when 
enlisted in a good cause, and backed by brains. 

In 1879 Fleming wrote the following letter to F. N. Gis- 
borne : 

' The Pacific terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway 
will, in all probability, be finally determined this year, and 
the telegraph now erected from Lake Superior and carried 
almost to the base of the Rocky Mountains will then be 
extended to tide water in British Columbia. In my last 


report laid before Parliament, I submitted the importance of 
connecting Lake Superior with Ottawa, the seat of govern- 
ment, by telegraph. ... If these connexions are made, we 
shall have a complete overland telegraph from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific coast. It appears to me to follow that, as 
a question of Imperial importance, the British possessions 
to the west of the Pacific Ocean should be connected by 
submarine cable with the Canadian line. Great Britain will 
thus be brought into direct communication with all the 
greater colonies and dependencies without passing through 
foreign countries.' 

1 A question of Imperial importance ' ; — that furnishes a 
key to Fleming's point of view. No one who has followed 
his life to this point can have failed to see that he has 
always been a practical idealist; a man of big and broad ideas, 
possessing not only the courage to fight for those ideas, but 
also the rarer capacity for methodically working out all the 
practical details. If genius consists in an infinite capacity 
for taking pains, Sandford Fleming unquestionably pos- 
sesses that kind of genius. This very matter of the Pacific 
Cable involved technical problems that were not only 
intricate but to a large extent untried, and in which the 
opposing interests had marshalled on their side experts of 
world-wide standing. With all his courage he could scarcely 
have carried the movement to a successful conclusion, had 
he not been prepared at every stage to meet, by the evidence 
of hard facts, the arguments advanced against the practic- 
ability of a Pacific Cable. So careful indeed was he to work 
out all the details of the project, that his estimates of cost, 
traffic, and revenue, though differing widely from those 
computed by men employed in the cable business, were 
afterwards confirmed to an almost startling degree by the 
results of the actual laying and operation of the Pacific Cable. 

Fleming's outlook, as already indicated, has always been 
broad. It has also been patriotic, not in the narrow sense 
of the provincial politician who bellows his loyalty and 
flaunts his flag in the face of his neighbour, but in the larger 
sense of one who would see his country leading the world 


in the arts of peace and the bonds of human fellowship. 
The question of the Pacific Cable appealed to him not merely 
as a practical project for the development of trade and com- 
merce, but much more as a means of bringing together the 
scattered members of the British Empire, removing at one 
stroke the prejudices that are born of lack of knowledge of 
our brother's problems, and putting in their place the sym- 
pathy and sense of kinship that come with fuller understand- 

In his last report to the Government as Chief Engineer of 
the Canadian Pacific Railway, dated April 1880, Fleming 
went into the subject in detail, setting forth the practicability 
and cost of the proposed cable, and its vital importance to 
Canada, Australasia, and the Empire. He also prepared 
a map, showing the route as then suggested. This map Sir 
John Macdonald took to England and discussed with Lord 
Beaconsfield. Both these great statesmen, it is said, were 
impressed with the importance of the project from an Im- 
perial standpoint. Being, however, shrewd politicians, as 
well as great statesmen, they were not prepared to take the 
matter up energetically in advance of public opinion. 

The Canadian Government, however, with Fleming at 
their elbow, were not permitted to forget the project. The 
information that he had gathered for them they submitted 
to Parliament in 1880, 1881, and 1882, but there were obsta- 
cles and difficulties in the way, and the representatives of 
the people were slow to act. In 1885 the matter was again 
pressed upon the attention of Sir John Macdonald, and in 
this letter the direct route to New Zealand and Australia 
was advocated. The earlier proposals had been for a route 
to Asia by way of the Aleutian Islands, and thence to 
Australia, it being supposed that the nature of the bed of the 
ocean made a more southerly course impracticable. More 
complete knowledge dispelled these objections, and the 
manifest advantages of a direct route were impressed upon 
the Prime Minister, who was at the same time urged to take 
the matter up with the British and Colonial Governments. 

The following year an Order in Council was passed recom- 


mending that ' advantage be taken of the Indian and 
Colonial Exhibition, now being held in London, and the 
presence in that city of representatives from the colonies 
interested, to obtain an expression of opinion on the project ', 
both from them and from the Imperial authorities. The 
High Commissioner for Canada was directed to ascertain 
and report what assistance the Colonies and the United 
Kingdom would be prepared to give. Sandford Fleming 
promptly sailed for England to follow the matter up. The 
High Commissioner, Sir Charles Tupper, warmly entered 
into his plans, but the result of their united efforts was not 
encouraging. The British Government threw cold water on 
the scheme, and the representatives of Australia and New 
Zealand could do nothing in the absence of explicit instruc- 
tions from their respective Governments. 

It was rather an unfortunate thing for the opponents of 
the Pacific Cable, who were beginning to realize that they 
might have to fight for their monopoly, that Fleming was 
now free to give almost his entire attention to the project. 
He had severed a few years before his last connexion with 
official life, and had the leisure as well as the desire to carry 
the movement for an all-British cable to a successful con- 
clusion. Not at all cast down by the cold reception his 
plans had met with in England, he returned to Canada more 
determined than ever to see the matter through. He had 
already enlisted the powerful assistance of the Press, and by 
means of speeches, pamphlets, and personal correspondence, 
was gradually spreading the leaven of the new idea through- 
out the Empire. 

The Jubilee Conference of 1887 offered another oppor- 
tunity of furthering the project, and particularly of getting 
in direct touch with the representatives of the Colonies. 
The Colonial Secretary opened the way for a discussion of the 
Pacific Cable by including in his circular calling the Confer- 
ence, ' the promotion of commercial and social relations by 
the development of our postal and telegraphic communica- 
tions \ Canada appointed Sir Alexander Campbell and 
Sandford Fleming as her representatives. 


The Conference opened in London on April 4, under the 
presidency of the Colonial Secretary, whose attitude toward 
the Pacific Cable proved to be far from friendly. The 
Eastern Telegraph system was also ably represented by its 
energetic chairman Mr. Pender, whose opposition to the 
proposed cable was tacitly or openly endorsed by many of 
the British officials. Mr. Pender argued that the scheme was 
impracticable on physical grounds by reason of the extreme 
depth of the Pacific Ocean. An official connected with the 
telegraphs of Great Britain, who was attending the Confer- 
ence in an advisory capacity, being asked his opinion on this 
point, said he thought the depth went down in places to 
11,000 or 12,000 fathoms, that is to say about thirteen miles ! 
It was subsequently proved that he was about 8,000 or 9,000 
fathoms out in his calculations. Mr. Pender also argued 
that the cable, even if capable of realization, would be a 
financial failure ■ that his companies were prepared to offer 
as low a rate for cable service ; and that the scheme would 
in any event work great injustice to the existing lines. 

Fleming now had the opportunity he had been waiting 
for. He had all the facts at his finger's ends, and was able 
to make out a convincing case for the Pacific Cable from 
every point of view. He touched first upon the larger 
aspects of the question. ' If we resort ', he said, ' to the 
agencies of steam and electricity, the people of Australasia 
and the people of Canada may, for all practical purposes, 
become neighbours. And why, it may be asked, should they 
not be neighbours, as far as it is possible for art and science 
to make them ? Are they not one in language, in laws, and 
in loyalty ? Have they not substantially the same mission 
in the outer Empire, and would they not, as good neighbours 
supporting each other, and with their energies directed to 
a common cause, be of great advantage to each other ? 
Would they not, so united by friendly ties, add strength to 
the power to which they owe a common and willing allegi- 
ance ? ' 

' It is only necessary ', he said again, ' to look at a tele- 
graph map of the world to see how dependent on foreign 


powers Great Britain is at this moment for the security of its 
telegraphic communication with Asia, Australia, and Africa. 
In fact, it may be said that the telegraphic communication 
between the Home Government and every important 
division of the Empire, except Canada, is dependent on the 
friendship (shall I say, protection ?) of Turkey. Is not 
Turkey continually exposed to imminent danger from 
within ? Is she not in danger of falling a prey to covetous 
neighbours, whose friendship to England may be doubted ? ' 

Pointing out that Canada had opened the way to an all- 
British telegraphic communication by the completion of a 
telegraph line across the Dominion from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, and that messages had already passed between 
London and Vancouver, he went on to say, ' Were a cable 
laid across the Pacific, from one British land to another, not 
only would there be a communication with Australasia, but, 
by the cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company, India and 
Africa would equally be in touch with the centre of the 
Empire, without dependence on any line passing through 
a foreign country/ While still in the middle of the fight 
for a Pacific Cable, Fleming's vision was already springing 
out toward the broader project of an Imperial cable system 
girdling the globe. That, however, will come up later. 

Dealing with the objections of the Eastern Telegraph 
System, he refused to recognize their right to a monopoly of 
the telegraph business with the East. ' This is not the first 
time ', he said, ' that a company or an individual has been 
called upon to relinquish a monopoly found to be inimical 
to the public welfare. Is it for a moment to be thought of 
that Canada and Australia are never to hold direct tele- 
graphic intercourse because a commercial company stands 
in the way ? Are commercial relations between two of the 
most important divisions of the British family for ever to 
remain dormant in order that the profits of a company may 
be maintained ? Are the vital interests of the British Empire 
to be neglected ? Is the permanent policy of England to be 
thwarted ? Is the peace of the world to be endangered at 
the bidding of a joint stock company ? ' 


A paragraph in the speech of Sir Alexander Campbell 
before the Conference illustrates strikingly enough the 
attitude of the Admiralty toward the Pacific Cable project, 
— what has been called their masterly inactivity. ' Canada ', 
he said, ' proposed two or three years ago to assist in a survey 
[of the proposed route of the Pacific Cable]. The difficulty 
which the Admiralty urged was that they had no vessel to 
spare, and, therefore, they could not do it. Canada had 
several vessels of her own, and she found a suitable one, the 
Alert, an excellent ship for the purpose, which she offered, 
and in that way she seemed to have answered completely 
the difficulty raised by the Admiralty. Canada wrote over 
to the Admiralty telling them that she had a suitable vessel ; 
and then they would not do it at all. Then we, and when 
I say we I mean Mr. Fleming and a friend of his, offered to 
pay half the expense (about $90,000). Still the Admiralty 
would not do it, and there the matter stopped/ The net 
result of the Conference, so far as the Pacific Cable project 
was concerned, was the adoption of the following resolution 
proposed by Sir Alexander Campbell : ' That the connexion 
of Canada with Australasia by direct submarine telegraph 
across the Pacific is a project of high importance to the 
Empire, and every doubt as to its practicability should 
without delay be set at rest by a thorough and exhaustive 

After the Conference broke up, Fleming remained in 
London to see what could be accomplished with the Admi- 
ralty in the matter of a survey, but the Admiralty would do 
nothing. The whole project in fact seemed for a time to 
have come to grief on this rock of the survey. Year after 
year dragged by, with endless official correspondence, and 
various suggestions from Canada and Australia as to their 
Governments sharing with the Imperial Government the 
cost of a survey, but all to no purpose. The inertia of the 
Admiralty was phenomenal. 

In the year 1893 Mackenzie Bowell, Minister of Trade and 
Commerce in the Government of Canada, sailed for Australia 
on a special mission to promote trade between the two 


colonies. He was also to confer with the Australian Govern- 
ments as to the Pacific Cable. At his own expense Fleming 
accompanied the Minister, as an unofficial delegate to further 
the interests of the cable project. 

In personal interviews with members of the Australian 
Governments, and in public speeches in all the principal 
cities, the two delegates laboured earnestly to arouse the 
people of the Island Continent to the importance of the 
proposed cable. Everywhere they were received with the 
utmost friendliness, and it became evident that popular 
interest in the question was thoroughly aroused. Here, as 
in England, however, the open or secret opposition of the 
Eastern Telegraph Company met them on every hand, 
and, no doubt through the same influence, the various 
Australian Governments received from the Colonial Office, 
at the very time the Canadian delegates were urging the 
adoption of the scheme for a state-owned cable, two 
official documents carefully designed to discredit the whole 

The whole situation suggested the desirability of a con- 
ference of delegates from the various colonies interested in 
the Pacific Cable. The attitude of most of the Australian 
Governments was now known to be sympathetic, but there 
were serious difficulties that could only be satisfactorily 
dealt with at a general Conference. It was found impossible 
to arrange a meeting while the Canadian delegates were in 
Australia, but an agreement was reached that it should take 
place in Ottawa the following year. Accordingly, on the 
return of Mr. Bowell to Ottawa, and with the assent of the 
Imperial authorities, the Canadian Government arranged 
for a meeting of representatives of the various colonies in 
Ottawa in 1894. In addition to the Australian and New 
Zealand delegates, the Imperial Government and the Cape 
Colony Government were also represented. 

The whole question was discussed in all its bearings, and 
with one or two exceptions the attitude of the delegates was 
distinctly favourable to the scheme, but, in spite of the 
eloquent and forcible appeal of Fleming, it seemed impossible 


to get away from the bugbear of a survey, or to make any 
real progress until some way had been found of settling 
beyond peradventure the moot point of the practicability of 
the cable. At the last moment, however, one of the dele- 
gates unexpectedly suggested a simple way out of the diffi- 
culty. Why not call for tenders, he said, for the completion 
of the cable by the various routes proposed, and leave the 
matter of surveys to the tenderers ? That would settle the 
whole question of practicability within three months. The 
eminent gentlemen who made up the Conference must have 
wondered why such a simple and practical solution had not 
occurred to them long before. 

A resolution was then adopted, which, taken with what 
had gone before, went a long way toward a satisfactory 
solution of the whole question. It was to the effect that 
' the Canadian Government be requested, after the rising of 
this Conference, to make all necessary inquiries, and gener- 
ally to take such steps as may be expedient, in order to 
ascertain the cost of the proposed Pacific Cable, and promote 
the establishment of the undertaking in accordance with the 
views expressed in this Conference \ 

It may be doubted if some of the delegates quite realized 
the long step forward taken by the Ottawa Conference in 
adopting this resolution. Under other circumstances it 
might have shared the usual fate of such resolutions, but the 
Canadian Minister in whose hands the matter was left was 
Mackenzie Bowell, a warm supporter of the project, and the 
man who was actually entrusted with all the practical 
details was Sandford Fleming. 

No sooner had the Conference closed than Fleming set 
to work upon the preparation of plans and specifications. 
Within a month they were ready, and the Government of 
Canada had publicly invited tenders for a submarine cable 
across the Pacific from British Columbia to Australia. The 
advertisement appeared in August. By the first of Novem- 
ber the tenders were in the hands of the Minister of Trade 
and Commerce, and were immediately handed over to 
Fleming to be reported upon. Despite the gloomy pre- 


dictions of the enemies of the cable, half a dozen or more 
of the great cable-laying companies had no hesitation in 
tendering for the work, the practicability of the scheme was 
at once established, and the cost was found to be six million 
dollars below the estimate of the authorities of the British 
Post Office. 

The inevitable result of this action by the Canadian 
Government was to transform the project from a more or less 
theoretical question to one that was recognized as practical. 
It rapidly gained friends throughout the Empire, and in 
1896 an Imperial Pacific Cable Committee was appointed 
to examine into and report upon the whole matter. The 
Committee consisted of six members, two representing the 
Home Government, two representing Canada, and two from 
Australasia. Fleming had been appointed one of Canada's 
representatives, but preferred to take the position of expert 
adviser to the Committee, which gave him wider freedom in 
assembling and bringing forward the facts of the case. As 
some one has suggested, he practically filled the position of 
counsel for the cable project. 

The Committee went into every detail with the utmost 
care and thoroughness, and its estimates of cost and revenue 
were very conservative. It reported that the project was 
quite practicable, favoured state-ownership, and recom- 
mended the route by way of Vancouver Island, Fanning 
Island, Fiji, Norfolk Island, and New Zealand and Queens- 
land. The favourable report of the Committee was a tri- 
umph for Fleming, whose long agitation for the cable now 
had the support not only of the Imperial and Colonial 
statesmen constituting the Committee, but also of a majority 
of the acknowledged authorities on the subject. 

The Jubilee Conference of 1897 had before it the report of 
the Pacific Cable Committee, but for reasons that have never 
been made very clear no definite action was taken. Accord- 
ing to a statement made at the time, the scheme was left 
in mid-air. The sinister influence of the Eastern Telegraph 
Company was still powerful. Fleming immediately ad- 
dressed a vigorous protest to the Prime Minister of Canada, 



Sir Wilfrid Laurier, setting forth the facts as they appeared 
at that time, and concluding as follows : 

' Under these circumstances it is not improper to consider 
if there be any duty or obligation resting on us in Canada. 
The Dominion is now looked up to as the elder brother in 
the British family of kindred nationalities. If as Canadians 
we have faith in our destiny as no inconsiderable element of 
the great Empire, are we not called upon again to take the 
initiative ? The Mother Country awaits a proposal. It 
cannot well come from disunited Australasia. If we are to 
be brought within speaking distance of the kindred com- 
munities in the southern seas, the first impulse must come 
from ourselves. Shall the opportunity which circumstances 
have presented be seized and another proof given to the 
world that " the Canadian Government and people are deter- 
mined, in all ways, to promote Imperial unity " ? ' 

Although public opinion was now almost universally 
favourable to the Pacific Cable project, the influence of its 
opponents, the great Eastern monopoly, was still powerful 
enough to stave off from year to year a final agreement 
between the self-governing colonies and the mother country. 
In May 1899, Fleming published the following letter addressed 
to the British People : 

' Within the last few days it has been stated that the Home 
Government has not responded to the proposals of Canada, 
Australia, and New Zealand respecting the establishment of 
the Pacific Cable, in the way that the Governments and the 
people of these countries had reason to expect, in conse- 
quence of which a feeling of disappointment and surprise 
is on all sides expressed. 

' It had been arranged that the Pacific Cable should be 
established as a national work, the Governments of Canada, 
Australia, and New Zealand being joint partners with the 
Imperial Government. 

' This arrangement has been slowly developed. It has 
been generally favoured by all the Governments for some 
time. The Home Government has frequently been asked to 
take the initiative in carrying it into effect, but the Colonial 


Secretary has always insisted that Canada and the Austra- 
lasian colonies should take primary action by determining 
what proportion of the cost of the undertaking each would 
be willing to contribute. 

1 It has been a matter of much difficulty to reach an agree- 
ment on this point, and the difficulty has been enhanced by 
the great intervening distances, and the character of the 
means of communication, in consequence of which much 
delay has arisen. At length, however, conclusions have been 
arrived at. On the 20th of August last the Australasian 
colonies finally agreed to contribute eight-eighteenths of the 
cost, and last month Canada finally undertook to contribute 
five-eighteenths, making thirteen-eighteenths in all, thus 
leaving only five-eighteenths to be assumed by the Home 

1 It appears that the Home Government, although it has 
not absolutely declined to enter into partnership and assume 
the remaining five-eighteenths share of the liability, has 
merely offered to bear five-eighteenths of any loss of revenue 
(not exceeding £20,000) which may result from operating the 
cable, provided priority be given to Imperial Government 
messages, and that they be transmitted at half ordinary 

1 As this proposal, at the eleventh hour, taken by itself, 
involves an entire change in the well-known plan upon which 
Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have been proceeding 
in their negotiations for more than two years, and, moreover, 
is in itself of no value in securing the establishment of so 
important a national work, it is impossible to believe that it 
is the full or final judgement of Her Majesty's Government, 
for the following reasons : — 

1 It would always be regarded as a recession on the part of 
the Mother Country, from a common understanding with 
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 

1 It would always be regarded as an attempt to retard the 
expansion and cripple the commerce of the Empire in the 
interests of a few rich monopolists. 

' It would always be regarded by the people of Canada, 


Australia, and New Zealand as an unjustifiable and dis- 
courteous act to them. 

' Its effect would be far-reaching, and its immediate effect 
would be a fatal blow to the scheme for establishing a system 
of State-owned British cables encircling the globe. 

1 It would be a very grave retrograde step in the Imperial 
movement, which aims to draw closer the bonds between the 
Mother Country and her daughter lands/ 

This letter, with the announcement of the attitude of the 
Imperial Government, produced a storm of protest through- 
out the Empire. The representatives of the self-governing 
Colonies in London were instructed to make urgent repre- 
sentations to the Home authorities of the views of their 
respective Governments. Leading newspapers of Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, voiced the 
general disappointment of the people. The Minister of 
Public Works of Canada was sent to England as a special 
representative to explain in person the views of the 
Dominion Government. 

The day before he landed, however, the Home Government 
yielded to the universal pressure, and in a generous and 
graceful spirit not only agreed to support the Pacific Cable, 
but went farther than either Canada or Australasia had asked 
or expected. So the long agitation for a state-owned British 
cable between Canada and Australasia was brought to 
a satisfactory conclusion. 

It only remains to say that the necessary steps were im- 
mediately taken to have the cable laid and to arrange the 
details of its administration, and on October 31, 1902, the 
first message was sent over the new Imperial line of com- 
munication, a greeting to the King from the people of the 
Fiji Islands. The first message received in Canada was one 
of warm congratulation from the Prime Minister of New 
Zealand to Sandford Fleming. 



The narrative of Fleming's long fight for the establishment 
of an all-British cable between Canada and Australasia 
would not be complete without some account of his attempt 
to secure landing-places for the cable. It was peculiarly 
important that a suitable station should be secured midway 
between the two ends of the line, to avoid the difficulties 
of laying and maintaining an excessively long cable. In 
fact, it was believed at the time that the project would not 
be feasible unless a landing-station could be secured in or 
near the Hawaiian Islands. The writer has already told the 
story of the Necker Island episode in the chapter ' Stepping 
Stones in Mid-Pacific \ in Annals and Aims of the Pacific 
Cable. The substance of that chapter is reproduced here 
to complete the history of the laying of the Pacific Cable. 

The Hawaiian group consists of eight islands, ranging 
in area from 50 to 3,000 square miles each, with a soil in 
many parts of extraordinary fertility. The most eastern, 
and largest, island is named Hawaii. The others in their 
order are : Maui, Kahulaui, Lauai, Molokai, Oahu (on which 
the capital, Honolulu, is situated), Kauai, and Niihau. The 
two latter are separated from the main group by open 
water, at no point less than sixty-five miles in extent. Of 
all these islands Fleming considered that the most desirable 
for the purposes of the cable would be either the most eastern, 
Hawaii, or the most western, the twin islands Kauai and 
Niihau. The Hawaiians themselves would probably prefer 
to have it landed at Honolulu. Much though they desired 
cable communication, however, there was grave doubt if the 
Hawaiian Government would be willing to surrender one of 
these islands to England, and as there was a very strong 
feeling, both in Australia and Canada, that the cable should 
land only upon British soil, it became desirable to cast about 
for some unclaimed island in mid-Pacific. 


It immediately became apparent that the choice was very 
meagre. A glance at the map will show how singularly 
barren of islands is this portion of the ocean, outside of the 
Hawaiian group. There was indeed Fanning Island, but 
Fanning Island stood at such a distance from the Canadian 
starting-point that the laying of the first link of the cable 
would be both very difficult and very expensive ; indeed, 
some competent authorities insisted that it was an impossi- 
bility. Certainly, no such single length of cable had ever 
yet been laid the world over. While Fleming was, neverthe- 
less, of opinion that the Fanning route was quite feasible, he 
yet thought it preferable, if at all possible, to secure a landing- 
place more centrally located — one somewhere in the latitude 
of the Hawaiian group. 

After examining the Admiralty charts, and making careful 
inquiries, Fleming found that there was a small rocky island, 
called Necker, lying in latitude 23 35' north, longitude 164 
39' west, about 240 miles westward of the Hawaiian group, or 
something over 400 miles west of Honolulu. This rocky 
islet lies on the shortest and most direct course from Van- 
couver Island to the northern coast of Queensland, passing 
Apamana, in the Gilbert group, and San Christoval, in the 
Solomon group, both of these groups being British territory. 

Very little was known about the island, as no one had ever 
landed upon it. What information there was had been 
published chiefly to warn mariners from its inhospitable 
shores. Necker Island is, in fact, a mere rock, from one- 
half to three-quarters of a mile long and one thousand feet 
broad, with an elevation at two points of 250 and 280 feet, 
on the south-east. Not a single tree is to be found upon the 
island, but there is stated to be abundant vegetation on the 
high land towards the summit. The shores rise steep as 
a wall, and the sea breaks with fury at all points. The island 
was discovered by La Perouse, on the 1st of November, 1786, 
but was regarded as too insignificant for ownership. 

In September 1893, as already stated, Mr. Mackenzie Bowell 
proceeded on a diplomatic mission to Australia, on behalf of 
the Canadian Government, and Fleming accompanied him, at 


his own expense, with the object of forwarding the Pacific 
Cable project. 

While at Honolulu, en route for Australia, Fleming pre- 
pared a memorandum respecting Necker Island, which was 
forwarded to Ottawa by Mr. Bowell, and made the subject of 
an official dispatch from the Canadian Government to the 
Home Government, urging the immediate acquisition of 
Necker Island as a landing-place for the cable. 

A copy of this memorandum was at the same time left 
with the British Minister at Honolulu, to be forwarded direct 
to the Foreign Office ; another copy was sent to the Admir- 
alty ; and still another to Admiral Stevenson, commanding 
on the North Pacific Station, so that he might be prepared 
for any instructions the Admiralty should see fit to send. 

This memorandum embodied such further particulars as 
Fleming had been able to glean touching Necker Island. 
It was uninhabited, possessed, in fact, no means of supporting 
life, and was consequently useless to any nation, except for 
such a special purpose as a cable station. Its position is 
described as ' singularly commanding, not only in respect of 
a cable from Canada to Australia, but likewise to Japan and 
Hong-Kong '. A mid-ocean station in this part of the Pacific, 
entirely removed from foreign influences, being of supreme 
importance, and there being ' no certainty that one of the 
Hawaiian Islands could be obtained \ Fleming strongly 
recommended that Necker Island should be formally taken 
possession of without delay in the name of Her Majesty. 

On reaching Australia, Bowell placed the facts in relation 
to Necker Island before the Governments of New South 
Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, and in October 1893, each 
of these Governments, convinced of the importance of 
acquiring such an admirably situated landing-place for the 
cable — one, too, that had never yet been taken possession of 
by any nation, and could be had for the mere trouble of 
taking — sent instructions to their respective Agents-General 
in London to urge upon the Home Government the im- 
portance of taking immediate steps to secure the island. 

In their interviews with the Governments of Queensland, 


New South Wales, and Victoria, Bowell and Fleming learned 
with deep regret that dispatches had quite recently been 
received from England, covering reports from officials in the 
Admiralty and Post Office Department, the tone of which 
was peculiarly antagonistic to the project of a Pacific Cable. 
It so happened, however, that the very severity of the British 
official criticism turned to the advantage of the Canadians, 
for the dispatches had laid stress upon the difficulty or im- 
possibility of connecting Fanning Island with Vancouver 
by cable, and it was the more easy to convince the Australian 
ministers of the vital necessity of securing Necker. 

Australia having thus approved of the Canadian proposals, 
it only remained to persuade the Imperial Government. It 
being sufficiently apparent that nothing could be gained by 
correspondence, it was decided that Fleming should proceed 
direct to England, and bring the importance of the project to 
the personal attention of the Imperial Ministers. Fleming 
accordingly proceeded from Australia to England, first 
writing the High Commissioner in London, informing him of 
the state of affairs, and the desirability of pressing the Necker 
matter upon the Home authorities. 

The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Ripon, sent 
a dispatch to Ottawa in reply to the dispatch of the Canadian 
Government urging the speedy acquisition of Necker Island. 
This reply is dated the 20th of December, 1893, and informs 
the Dominion authorities that * the Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs will defer action in the matter, pending the 
establishment of the Government of Hawaii upon a more 
permanent footing \ It will be remembered that the death 
of King Kamehameha had been followed by a revolution, 
in which the Queen was deposed, and a provisional Govern- 
ment established. The members of this Government were 
nearly all citizens of, and in active sympathy with, the United 
States. The British Government, always anxious to avoid 
hurting the feelings of the United States, possibly felt that to 
take possession of Necker Island might cause annoyance at 
Washington. At any rate, they evidently felt that it was 
necessary to consult the Hawaiian Government in the matter, 


though on what grounds it is somewhat difficult to determine, 
as Necker Island did not belong, either politically or geo- 
graphically, to the Hawaiian group. As Fleming very forcibly 
put it, ' Necker Island is an unoccupied and unclaimed spot 
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, wholly unfit for settle- 
ment, and destitute of the means of supporting life ; it is 
valueless to any nation as a strategic point ; affords neither 
a haven for ships nor a depot for commerce ; is entirely 
outside the Hawaiian group of islands, and beyond the 
sphere of the Hawaiian Kingdom or state, being in fact as 
distant from Honolulu as Washington is from Ottawa, and 
double the distance that London is from Paris/ 

Fleming, however, knew nothing, until the following 
summer, of this curious decision of the Imperial Government, 
and having arrived in London towards the end of December, 
at once saw the Canadian High Commissioner, and through 
him arranged an interview between the Colonial Minister and 
the Canadian and Australian representatives. After some 
delays, Lord Ripon met the delegates, on January 12, 1894, 
the following colonies being represented, in addition to 
Canada : New South Wales, New Zealand, Victoria, Queens- 
land, and Tasmania. During the interview, Fleming read and 
handed to the Colonial Minister a memorandum setting forth 
the particulars regarding Necker Island, and urging the vital 
importance of securing it without delay as a mid-ocean 
telegraph station. 

On the 1 6th January, the High Commissioner, Sir Charles 
Tupper, sent a report on this interview to Bowell. Lord 
Ripon, he wrote, * seemed to be much impressed with our 
representations, and promised to place himself in communi- 
cation with the Foreign Office with a view of ascertaining 
what action can be taken in the matter \ Apparently not 
a word was said during the interview of his Lordship's re- 
markable dispatch of the 20th December, 1893, announcing 
the singular decision of the Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, to defer action in the matter of acquiring Necker 
Island, ' pending the establishment of the Government of 
Hawaii upon a more permanent footing \ 


Fleming returned to Canada, immediately after the inter- 
view, buoyed up with the confident hope that the British 
Government had at last been awakened to the vital impor- 
tance of taking possession of Necker Island, and that the 
requisite action would no longer be delayed. 

The months of February, March, and April passed, but 
nothing could be learned in Ottawa, although frequent 
inquiries were made, as to any steps which had been taken 
by the Imperial authorities. Early in May, the Minister of 
Trade and Commerce cabled to Sir Charles Tupper to ascer- 
tain what had been done in the matter. The High Com- 
missioner called at the Colonial Office, but no satisfactory 
reply could be obtained, and from what was learned it 
appeared that the matter was in exactly the same position 
as before the interview with the Marquess of Ripon. The 
Foreign Minister, Lord Rosebery, had ' expressed his desire 
that the Imperial Government should do anything possible 
in the premises ; that Her Majesty's representatives at 
Honolulu had been requested to watch the matter closely ; 
but he thought it undesirable, in view of the disturbed 
relations in the Sandwich Islands, that any definite steps 
should be taken for the present/ 

Months passed, and although the importance of acquiring 
Necker Island at once had been repeatedly pressed upon 
the attention of the Imperial authorities, both by Canada 
and the Australasian Colonies, the Home authorities had 
apparently decided to forget the whole incident. The 
Colonial Conference at Ottawa was fast approaching, when 
the Pacific Cable matter would be threshed out in all its 
bearings, and the importance of Necker Island as a half-way 
house for the cable ventilated and made public, and it might 
then be too late to take possession of it. 

Fleming, feeling that no time was to be lost, and realizing 
that nothing was to be hoped for from the Imperial Govern- 
ment in the matter, sought earnestly for some other solution 
of the difficulty. He talked the question over, confidentially, 
with those interested in the project, but they could offer 
nothing helpful. Finally, a suggestion came to him, in 


conversation with a high military official, who had served 
in India and whom he met when travelling. Their talk 
drifted to the Pacific Cable. Among other things, Fleming 
explained the highly unsatisfactory state of the Necker 
project. ' Ah ! ' dryly remarked the officer, ' the best thing 
to do in a matter of that kind, is to act first, and ask for leave 
afterwards/ His listener began to look interested. ' Per- 
haps ', continued the official, ' you have not heard how we 
got the island of Perim ? ' The French had an eye on it, 
and sent an admiral to hoist the tricolour. The admiral 
went ashore at Port Aden, visited the British Resident, who 
dined him, and wined him, and presently learned the object of 
his voyage. The British diplomat left the room for a moment 
on pretext of a bottle of extra good wine, and incidentally 
gave orders that with all possible expedition men should be 
sent to Perim to hoist the British flag, and take possession of 
the island in the name of Her Majesty. He then returned 
with the wine, and astonished and delighted the admiral with 
the charm of his conversation, the pungency of his wit, and 
the excellent quality of his wine. The two made merry far 
into the night. Next morning the French admiral took an 
affectionate farewell of the British Resident, and sailed over 
to Perim to fulfil the objects of his mission. Arrived there, 
what was his amazement to find a flag already floating over 
the island. It was not, however, the flag of France. ' That ' , 
concluded the military officer, ' is what will have to be done/ 

Fleming took the hint. What a British official had done 
at Perim, on his own responsibility, he could do at Necker. 
He knew of a discreet man in Toronto — a retired naval 
officer — who could safely be entrusted with a delicate 
mission. He sent for him, explained the circumstances in 
connexion with Necker Island ; that it had now become 
a question of securing the island at once by a private coup, or 
losing it altogether, and possibly putting an end to the project 
of connecting Australia with Canada by a direct cable. The 
naval expert agreed to undertake the mission, his expenses, 
of course, to be borne by Fleming. 

The latter then outlined his plan. The naval officer was 


to proceed to Vancouver forthwith, where he would catch the 
first steamer for Honolulu. There he was to disembark, and 
there the special service would practically commence. At 
Honolulu he was to procure a vessel to take him to the vicinity 
of ' an unoccupied rocky island, situated about latitude 23 
23' N. and longitude 164 30/ W.' — in other words, the much- 
discussed Necker. Arrived at the island, he was to make 
an examination of the character of the shores, and ascertain 
the best point or points for landing an electric submarine 
cable ; take such soundings in the immediate vicinity of the 
island as would enable him to report on the approaches ; 
and make an approximate survey and sketch of the island. 
Finally, he was to ' leave behind him evidences of his visit ' ; 
in other words, he was desired to emulate the example of 
that enterprising official at Perim, plant a flag-staff, unfurl 
the British flag, and take possession of the island in the name 
of Her Majesty the Queen. Being a British subject, and a 
retired officer of the British navy, there would be no question 
as to the legality of such a claim, provided the Imperial 
Government chose to recognize it. 

The mission was one of more than ordinary difficulty. 
It must be carried through with the utmost secrecy, and at 
the same time with the utmost expedition. The time avail- 
able was extremely limited. The Colonial Conference was 
to meet at Ottawa towards the end of June. It was already 
the beginning of May, and Fleming considered it very 
important that the flag should float over Necker Island, and 
that he should be satisfied of that fact when the Conference 

The naval officer returned to Toronto, and Fleming set 
himself to a study of Pacific time-tables. It appeared that 
a steamer, the Warrimoo, would leave Vancouver for Aus- 
tralia on the 16th May, and was due to arrive at Honolulu 
on May 24. The steamer Arawa, which was booked to leave 
Sydney on May 18, would be due at Honolulu on June 2, 
en route for Vancouver. There was no other steamer leaving 
Honolulu for the North American continent until June 23, 
on which date the Australia was due to sail for San Francisco, 


reaching the latter place on June 30. It was evident that, 
if the report on Necker Island was to be in Fleming's hands 
by the middle of June, his agent must leave Vancouver by the 
Warrimoo on the 16th and return from Honolulu by the 
Ay aw a. This would give him from the 24th May to the 2nd 
June within which to accomplish his mission, a trifle over 
a week ; and during which time he must secure a vessel, 
without arousing the suspicions of the Hawaiian Govern- 
ment, steam to Necker Island, some 400 odd miles distant 
from Honolulu, effect a landing, which it must be remem- 
bered, had never before been accomplished, make a rough 
survey, take soundings, leave tangible evidence of his visit 
and its object, and be back in Honolulu in time to catch the 
Arawa on the 2nd June. 

Fleming, having got thus far, telegraphed to the naval 
expert, on the 7th May, as follows : 

' Outgoing steamer due at point of departure for special 
service May 24th. Return steamer due at same point 
June 2nd. I find service must be performed within those 
dates. Can you undertake ? ' 

The reply came the same day, brief and to the point : 
' Yes, weather permitting, and if arrangements now under- 
stood carried out/ 

The arrangements referred to contemplated the securing 
of a suitable vessel at Honolulu in advance of the naval 
officer's arrival there, so that not a moment might be lost 
in proceeding to Necker Island. To this end Fleming sent 
a telegram to San Francisco, to be forwarded to Honolulu 
by steamer leaving San Francisco on May 12. The telegram 
would consequently anticipate the arrival of Fleming's 
agent at Honolulu by some five days. The message was 
addressed to a reliable firm at Honolulu, the members of 
which Fleming had met on his trip to Australia the previous 
year, and they were asked to look out for ' a small seaworthy 
steamer or other suitable craft, for a gentleman arriving by 
the Warrimoo to make an excursion of a few hundred miles 
around the Hawaiian Islands, between the arrival of the 
Warrimoo and the sailing of the Arawa for Vancouver \ 


All arrangements having been made, the naval officer 
left Toronto on the 9th May, armed with explicit written 
instructions, and caught the Warrimoo at Vancouver. 

Having seen his lieutenant safely off upon this momentous 
journey, Fleming sat down and wrote a report to the Cana 
dian High Commissioner in London. 

' In view ', he wrote, ' of the Conference to be held here 
next month, I felt that the decisive moment had come, and 
not a day to spare, and that circumstances appeared to 
throw the duty of taking action upon myself, and that I 
should at once set about it without counting the cost ; I 
have, therefore, on my own responsibility as a private 
individual, and without the official knowledge of any one 
here, arranged to place the British flag in the Queen's name 
on this island in the Pacific, unoccupied and unclaimed by 
any maritime power. The gentleman I have sent left with 
my private instructions two days ago. He is a British 
subject, and was at one time in the British navy. ... I 
have reason to believe the flag will float over Necker Island 
within the present month, and before the Conference meets 
I shall hope to learn that all has been satisfactorily accom- 
plished. I believe the man I have selected is a discreet 
person, who will keep his own counsel, and he is instructed 
to report only to me. By this course I think Necker Island 
will pass under the British flag, without even my own name 
being known, and it will then rest with the British Govern- 
ment to see that it remains a British possession. 

' As the Home Government may hear of the proceeding 
before long through some other channel, and you have direct 
relations with them, I think you should as soon as possible 
be placed in possession of the facts. I do not propose, for 
the present at least, to communicate them to any other 

Sir Charles Tupper took an early opportunity of communi- 
cating the substance of this important letter to the Imperial 
authorities ; and on the 31st May, Fleming received from 
him the following cablegram : — 

1 Rosebery much annoyed at action. Will repudiate. 


Fears will destroy good prospect of obtaining Necker. 
Prevent action becoming public, if possible.' 

The following day (June 1) Fleming wrote the High Com- 
missioner in further explanation of his action. He enclosed 
a copy of his private instructions to the nautical expert, 
from which he thought it was clear that ' there were no 
grounds for the fears expressed by Lord Rosebery'. 

' When I wrote you/ he continued, ' I considered it only 
necessary to refer to one object of the expedition, that not 
even mentioned in my instructions, and only remotely 
alluded to in the words " leave behind you evidences of your 
visit ". The other object is to gain some knowledge of 
Necker Island. We scarcely know more than that it exists, 
and the movement for a British cable between Australia and 
Canada has obviously reached that stage when we should 
know how far it may be suitable for a mid-ocean telegraph 
station. It is manifestly important that this knowledge 
should be obtained before the Conference meets, and it can 
only be gained by an examination such as that undertaken. 
With respect to either object, we all recognized that there 
was, and is, a difficulty in having anything done by the 
Government. In consequence of this the duty seemed to 
devolve upon some one outside of the Government to move 
in the matter, and it was necessary to do so at once. Rightly 
or wrongly, I assumed the sole responsibility. If wrongly, 
I must bear the whole blame, for although others privately 
knew, no one here disapproved of the action to be taken, 
and I took care that no one officially was cognizant of it. 
I deeply regret that anything was done which would cause 
even temporary annoyance in any quarter, and while all 
censure must rest on me, I can only say that the action was 
taken only to advance the public interest.' 

Meanwhile the naval officer was speeding south to Hono- 
lulu, where he landed on the 24th May. Fleming had a note 
from the naval officer announcing his arrival at Vancouver 
and departure therefrom ; and he presently received a fuller 
report from Honolulu. The time for action had arrived, 
and the agent entrusted with the matter lost not a moment 



in prosecuting his delicate mission. He called as early as 
possible the following morning upon the merchant to whom 
Fleming's telegram had been addressed, to present his letter 
of introduction, and ascertain what steps had been taken to 
provide him with a suitable vessel for the Necker Island 

The senior member of the firm, who it appears was British 
Vice-Consul at Honolulu, was not in town, but his partner 
received the naval officer, read his introductory letter, and 
told him they had been somewhat at a loss to understand the 
message from Fleming, but supposed that the individual 
mentioned as being en route was simply bent on making 
a pleasure excursion among the islands, to see the volcanoes, 
&c. Under this impression they had made inquiries, and 
had the offer of two boats, the only craft available and 
suitable for the purpose. One of these steamers, the Lehua, 
was ready the same day that the Warrimoo arrived, and the 
other, the Iwalani, would be available to-day. The former, 
which was a small, slow boat, could be had for $100 a day, 
and the latter, a much better and faster steamer, for $250 
a day, all found. Neither had been definitely engaged, 
pending the arrival of the naval officer. It appeared also 
that these rates only applied to a trip among the Hawaiian 

Finding matters thus, the naval officer deemed it necessary 
to explain that his objective point was beyond the Hawaiian 
group, and as this member of the firm was acting more or 
less as Assistant British Consul, he conceived it best to explain 
fully the purport of his mission. He did this, and showed 
him as well Fleming's confidential instructions, and after 
reading these, the acting Consul laid before him a sketch 
of certain negotiations then pending between the British 
Foreign Office and the Provisional Government of Hawaii. 
It appeared that the British Government had already recog- 
nized, apparently quite gratuitously, the right of Hawaii to 
the Island of Necker as an appanage of the Hawaiian Crown 
or Government, and had asked the Provisional Government 
on what conditions they would allow Great Britain to have 


control of the island, for the purpose of landing a cable there. 
It will be remembered in this connexion, that Hawaii had 
never yet landed a man on Necker Island, or established 
the remotest claim to it ; that the island was uninhabitable, 
and commercially useless, except for such a purpose as a 
cable station ; that it possessed no strategic value as a naval 
base, it being a mere rock, harbourless, and difficult and 
next to impossible to land upon ; that it lay hundreds of 
miles outside the Hawaiian archipelago proper ; that, in fact, 
Hawaii had no legitimate claim to the island, either politi- 
cally, commercially, geographically, or by right of possession 
As the sequel will show, the Hawaiians themselves were not 
satisfied that they had any claim to the island, which rested 
upon a secure basis, in international or any other law. As 
a matter of fact, the only basis that has ever appeared for 
any such claim, is the somewhat sweeping and visionary 
scheme of King Kamehameha to include all the islands of the 
Pacific in one magnificent, though perhaps a trifle unwieldy, 
ocean empire, of which he would be a monarch. In pursuit 
of this laudable ambition, he sent a certain Captain Patey, 
in 1857, °ff t° the westward, with general instructions to 
explore the Pacific and raise the flag of Hawaii over any 
islands or reefs that might turn up around the horizon. Patey 
did so on several islands, but he merely saw Necker at some 
distance, and we have his own report (now deposited in the 
Government Museum at Honolulu) to prove that he never 
set foot on the island. His report, which is accompanied by 
a chart, is as follows : 

1 Necker Island : Bears from Honolulu N.W. by N. £ N., 
distant 403 miles. This is very precipitous — 300 feet high, 
one mile long, and half a mile wide. Its surface covered 
with grass patches, but no possible landing could be effected 
for boats, as the surf broke high all around the island. A 
bank of rocks and sand makes off south and west, extending 
from eight to ten miles. I found bottom at eighteen fathoms 
two miles off island, then bearing N.E.' 

However, the Imperial Government were pleased to credit 
Hawaii with the ownership of Necker Island, notwith- 



standing representations to the contrary, and had asked the 
Provisional Government to grant them permission to land 
a cable. About April 12, the Provisional Government had 
sent a reply, through the British Consul, asking the require- 
ments of the Imperial Government : 

1st. As to whether the proposed cable was to be a 
Government cable or a private company's ? 

2nd. How long would occupancy of the island be required 
— in perpetuity or not ? 

3rd. How soon would active steps be taken for cable 
construction and laying ? 

Up to that time (May 26) no reply had reached Honolulu 
from London. 

This, then, was the condition of affairs which the naval 
officer had to face. His instructions were no longer any 
guide to him, for they were conceived and given under the 
very natural impression that the Home Government had 
decided, for the present, at all events, to take no steps 
towards acquiring Necker Island. In the face of Lord 
Ripon's dispatch of the 20th December, 1893, and his 
explicit caution to the colonial representatives who inter- 
viewed him in London, on the 12th January, 1894, that 
* they should all be extremely careful to avoid any public 
reference to the subject ', it being most important that • the 
whole matter should be held to be strictly confidential, 
inasmuch as any reference to it by the newspapers of the day 
might imperil the object they all had in view', it could 
hardly have been foreseen that the Imperial Government 
would forthwith proceed to confide the scheme to the very 
ones whom it was most essential to keep it from. The only 
sane interpretation that can be put upon the caution as to 
newspaper publicity, is that if the scheme got into the news- 
papers, the Hawaiians would immediately forestall them, 
and take possession of the island. The Foreign Office 
adopted the more direct method of an official dispatch to the 
Provisional Government — a diplomatic stroke for which one 
searches in vain for a parallel. 

Fleming's agent immediately came to the conclusion that 


Her Majesty's Government, having made overtures directly 
to Hawaii for permission to occupy Necker Island, it would 
no longer be proper or expedient for him to pursue his private 
mission. The circumstances were entirely changed, and 
Fleming's instructions became virtually as if they had never 
been written. 

The agent abandoned all thought of visiting Necker Island, 
returned to Canada on the Arawa, and reported all the 
facts to Fleming, who fully approved of the course he had 

The secret mission had been abandoned, but the last had 
not been heard of Necker Island. The day after the arrival 
of the Warrimoo at Honolulu, the larger of the two vessels 
which had been selected for the use of the naval officer, the 
Iwalani, was taken possession of by the Hawaiian Govern- 
ment, and the same afternoon she left for an unknown 

Such an extraordinary circumstance naturally aroused 
much curiosity in the usually placid atmosphere of Honolulu. 
The local newspapers indulged in the wildest speculations ; 
and the excitement grew intense when it was learned that 
H.M.S. Champion had followed the Iwalani, that the latter 
vessel had on board a member of the Provisional Govern- 
ment, and that she carried an exceptionally large crew. A 
slight clue to the mystery was obtained when it became 
known that the Iwalani had taken on board at the last 
moment a large flag-pole. Evidently the Provisional 
Government intended to take possession of some unoccupied 
island, but where was the island ; and why such anxious 
haste to acquire it ? What, too, was the Champion's 
destination ? Was she merely, as had been officially stated, 
out on target practice, or was her motive a more sinister one ? 
Was she, in fact, racing the Iwalani for possession of some 
coveted island ? 

One of the Honolulu newspapers announced the following 
morning that the Iwalani was destined for Johnston Island, 
in latitude i6° 15' N., longitude 169 30' W., but this 
statement was corrected by the same paper the next day. 


Johnston Island had, as a matter of fact, been taken possession 
of by the Champion in 1892, as a possible landing-place for the 
Pacific Cable, and had been restored to Hawaii, who claimed 
it (probably as a portion of King Kamehameha's Imperial 
domain), on the understanding that England should have 
the right to land a cable there, if it was desirable to do so. 
The ownership seems to have been further complicated by 
a United States claim, the Washington authorities holding, 
it is said, that Johnston Island was taken possession of, as 
long ago as 1852, by one Captain Parker, an American 
citizen. However this may be, the destination of the 
Iwalani was not Johnston Island. 

The same Honolulu newspaper was equally positive that 
the Champion was also bound for Johnston Island, to take 
possession of it in the name of Her Britannic Majesty. They 
professed to have inside information on the point, and surely 
they ought to have had the ' scoop ', for they were indeed 
the Government organ. However, as it subsequently turned 
out, the Champion was not bound for Johnston Island, or 
any other island, neither had her present voyage the remotest 
connexion with that of the Iwalani. The rival newspaper, 
drawing a bow at a venture, had given Necker Island as the 
destination of the Iwalani, and so it proved to be. The 
Hawaiian Government had, in fact, completely turned the 
tables on Fleming. They had, quite unconsciously, adopted 
the very tactics he had contemplated, and were stealing 
a march on him, as the British Resident had stolen a march 
on the French admiral at Perim. 

The Iwalani returned on the 30th May from her moment- 
ous journey. It appears from the captain's log that she 
left Honolulu at 5.10 p.m. on May 25, and arrived off Necker 
Island at n a.m. on the 27th. A boat was at once lowered, 
the weather being favourable, and a party consisting of Hon. 
J. A. King, Hawaiian Minister of the Interior, Captain 
Freeman of the Iwalani, one of his officers, and several 
sailors, were rowed ashore. After considerable difficulty, 
the party were safely landed. A hard climb up a rugged 
cliff some 260 feet high was successfully accomplished, when 


Hon. Mr. King hoisted the Hawaiian flag and read the follow- 
ing proclamation : 

' I, James A. King, Minister of the Interior of the Pro- 
visional Government of the Hawaiian Islands, in pursuance 
of a commission granted to me by His Excellency Sanford 
B. Dole, President of the Provisional Government of the 
Hawaiian Islands, do hereby, in the name of the Provisional 
Government of the Hawaiian Islands, take possession of this 
island, known as Necker Island, as a part of the Hawaiian 
territory ; the same lying within the Hawaiian Archipelago, 
in latitude 23 35' 18" N., and longitude 164 30' W., and 
having been claimed by the Hawaiian Government as Ha- 
waiian territory since the year 1845, when an expedition 
under Captain William Patey was sent to survey the island. 

' Done at Necker Island, this 27th day of May, in the year 
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-four.' 

Thus at last, the Hawaiians had established a genuine 
claim to Necker Island, and had gained thereby what seemed 
at the time to be a secure hold on the Pacific Cable, sufficient 
to control the location of its landing-place in mid-Pacific. 

Necker Island, according to Captain Freeman's description, 
is a large lava rock. It was evidently inhabited at some 
remote period, square walls having been found standing 
about 3 feet high, 3 feet wide, and from 30 to 40 feet long, 
on the top of which were large flat stones, standing on end, 
and about two feet apart. It was at first thought that some 
shipwrecked crew had made a landing there, but after a 
search nothing could be found to indicate that such was the 
case. Captain Freeman found several ancient images and 
idols in a good state of preservation, except for the injuries 
received by exposure to the weather. A number of these 
were brought back to Honolulu, and may now be seen in the 
Government Museum. 

We know now the Iwalanis destination; and it is also 
perfectly clear why she went there ; but one point still 
remains to be elucidated — why the Provisional Government 
of Hawaii was in such a desperate hurry to take possession 
of Necker ? That after the application of the British 


Government they had determined to seize the island is toler- 
ably certain. The Provisional Government recognized that 
they had no valid claim. To establish a claim they must 
land and take formal possession. Now, this barren rock, un- 
inhabitable, and completely outside the sphere of Hawaiian 
activities, was useless to them in itself. It is perfectly safe 
to say that, had the Pacific Cable project not given the island 
a peculiar importance, Hawaii would never have taken the 
trouble to take possession, unless, indeed, another Kame- 
hameha should arise, imbued with an equally wild scheme 
for territorial aggrandizement. It was first made known to 
them in or before the month of April 1894, by the dispatch 
already referred to from the British Foreign Office, that it 
was proposed to utilize Necker Island as a landing-place for 
the Pacific Cable. Consequently, when Fleming's agent 
arrived in Honolulu on the 24th May, the Provisional Govern- 
ment had known of the contemplated acquisition of the island 
for about two months — though, of course, they had no idea 
of the Canadian plan to take possession of it off-hand. For 
a couple of months past it had been open to Hawaii 
formally to annex the island at any time they chose to send 
a vessel. Yet they had not done so up to the time of the 
naval officer's visit. The natural assumption is, that they felt 
there was no pressing hurry about the matter. The British 
Government were negotiating in their own leisurely fashion, 
and had already recognized Hawaii as the owner of the 
island. Hawaii could send a vessel to take possession of 
Necker and raise the flag when the negotiations had reached 
such a stage as to make that step desirable. 

This was the state of affairs when they learned, on the 
arrival of the mail steamer, that a conference, to deal with 
the cable matter, was about to meet in Ottawa. The 
Hawaiian Government accordingly chartered a vessel, and 
sent her in hot haste to Necker, with a member of their own 
Government on board, to proclaim Hawaiian sovereignty 
over what one of the local newspapers not inaptly described 
as ' the little lava rock '. 

Although the Iwalani incident was exhaustively discussed 


at the time by the Honolulu newspapers, and the wildest 
speculations were indulged in to account for the action 
of the Provisional Government, nothing was said that would 
indicate a knowledge of the actual presence in Honolulu at 
the time of an agent sent expressly to take possession of 
the island in the name of Her Majesty. It is not at all 
probable that the Provisional Government had been in- 
formed of any particular plan to seize the island, but it is 
certain that they had been told of the early meeting of the 
Cable Conference, and warned, either deliberately or unin- 
tentionally, that there was danger of the island passing into 
British hands. 

Now the question arises: Where did the Hawaiian 
Government get their information ? The explanation forms 
an essential portion of the Necker Island story, but as it in- 
volves the reputation of a gentleman who was at the time 
a Minister of the Crown, the regrettable incident is omitted 
from these pages. 

It might have been supposed that the failure of his in- 
genious plan for securing Necker Island would deter Fleming 
from any further efforts in that direction. About the middle 
of August, however, he is again taking the matter up, as a 
result of certain recommendations made during the Colonial 
Conference at Ottawa, in the previous month. In a lengthy 
communication to Sir John Thompson, then Premier of 
Canada, he places before him a succinct account of the 
efforts which had been made (so far without success), since 
September, 1893, to secure a station for landing the cable 
which would be at a less distance from Vancouver than 
Fanning Island, the nearest British possession. He also urges 
that the desired mid-station should still be sought for, and 
if possible secured before the date which had been fixed by 
public advertisement for receiving tenders for establishing 
the cable. He is of opinion that, although Hawaii was now 
in rightful possession of Necker Island, it was still open to 
Great Britain to secure landing rights. 

' The Hawaiians can have no desire to see the cable laid 
direct from Vancouver to Fanning Island, the nearest point 


controlled by Great Britain, as this route would deprive 
them of the much-required benefits of telegraphic service. 
There can be no doubt in my mind that if proper negotiations 
are entered into, as suggested by one of the resolutions of the 
Colonial Conference, the Hawaiian Government will see the 
advantage of making reasonable concessions. They may in 
fact be found willing to give up control of Necker Island, if, 
on our part, we undertake to give them a branch cable to 

So convinced was Fleming of the importance of securing 
Necker Island as a landing-place for the cable that he 
questioned whether it might not even be expedient, if nothing 
better could be done, to lay the cable from Vancouver to 
Honolulu at once, provided the Hawaiian Government would 
agree to give up to the British Government entire control of 
Necker Island. The cable laid via Honolulu would be con- 
sidered a commercial line, and as in a few years a second 
cable would be required, it could then be established on the 
Necker Island route as a purely national line of telegraphic 

Whatever plan was ultimately adopted, Fleming urged 
the immediate importance of entering into negotiations with 
the Hawaiian Government and making the best possible 
terms with them. He felt satisfied that the most effective 
means of reaching a satisfactory arrangement with Hawaii 
was to have a special commissioner sent to treat with them 
directly. As it was important to close the matter with the 
utmost possible dispatch, and delay would doubtless ensue if 
a commissioner were sent out from England, Fleming sug- 
gested that the assent of the Home Government should be 
obtained to some person from Canada going to Honolulu as 
a special commissioner. There being already a resident 
British Minister at Honolulu, the Canadian commissioner 
could be associated with him in the negotiations. Fleming 
concluded by suggesting that, if possible, Mr. Bowell, who 
was fully conversant with the Pacific Cable project, should be 
sent as Canadian commissioner. 

These suggestions were at once considered by the Canadian 


Government, and it was decided to send a commissioner to 
Honolulu, with the approval of the Home authorities. It 
was found impossible for Bowell to leave Canada at that time, 
and Fleming was consequently asked to accept the duty 
himself, which he consented to do. 

On the 10th September a communication was sent to the 
President of the Hawaiian Republic, notifying him that 
Fleming had been appointed a special commissioner to 
proceed to Honolulu for the purpose of submitting to the 
Hawaiian Government certain matters in relation to the 
Pacific Cable project. The Secretary of State for the Colonies 
had also decided to send Mr. W. H. Mercer, of the Imperial 
Colonial Office, to take part in the negotiations for obtaining 
neutral landing-ground for the proposed cable on one of the 
islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. 

Mercer arrived in Ottawa on September 18th, and on the 
following day he and Fleming left for Honolulu, which they 
reached on the 6th of October. The President of the Republic, 
Mr. Dole, and the Attorney-General, Mr. Smith, were absent 
from Honolulu during the period of their visit ; but the 
commissioners had frequent conferences with other members 
of the Hawaiian Government, the Foreign Minister and Acting 
President, Mr. Hatch ; the Minister of Finance, Mr. Damon ; 
and the Minister of the Interior, Hon. J. A. King. 

While making inquiries in various quarters, as to possible 
landing-places for the cable, Fleming gained some informa- 
tion of an uninhabited island — Wihoa or Bird Island — 150 
miles nearer Honolulu than Necker Island, which he deemed 
it expedient to visit. On reaching the island a landing was 
effected, and Fleming satisfied himself that while Bird Island 
did not in all respects present the conditions desirable in 
a mid-ocean station for the proposed telegraph, it nevertheless 
offered certain advantages, and he recommended that a 
further and more thorough examination should be made. 

After considerable negotiation, a draft agreement was 
drawn up, under which the Hawaiian Government agreed, 
subject to certain conditions and stipulations, to lease to the 
British Government either Necker Island, French Frigate 


Shoal, or Bird Island, or some other uninhabited island 
within their jurisdiction, whichever of them the British 
Government might select, for the purposes of the Pacific 

It was noted, however, that the Hawaiian Government 
were debarred by their Reciprocity Treaty with the United 
States, from leasing or otherwise disposing of their lands, or 
from granting any special privileges to any foreign Govern- 
ment, and it therefore became necessary for the Hawaiian 
Government to obtain the sanction of the United States 
Government as a condition precedent to the granting of 
the proposed lease. They undertook to bring the proposed 
arrangement to the notice of the Washington Government at 
an early date, with a view to ascertaining whether the United 
States would waive the prohibitory clauses of the Reciprocity 
Treaty, so far as the proposed agreement in relation to the 
Pacific Cable was concerned. 

The Hawaiian Government further agreed, in the event of 
the consent of the United States being obtained, to bring 
before their legislature a proposal for an annual subsidy of 
£7,000 to the Pacific Cable. The British Government, or 
the lessees of the cable, on their part, agreed to lay a branch 
cable from the leased island to Honolulu, so as to connect 
that place telegraphically with all points on the main cable ; 
to accept telegraphic messages from Honolulu at special 
specified rates ; not to fortify the island or use it as a naval 
station ; and to surrender it to Hawaii in the event of the 
cable being finally and permanently abandoned at any time. 
The Hawaiian Government also suggested, as an alternative 
proposition, that in lieu of a subsidy, the British Govern- 
ment should accept the absolute sovereignty of Necker or 
such other uninhabited island as might be selected. The 
commissioners, however, were debarred by their instructions 
from considering this proposal, but promised to submit it to 
the British and Canadian Governments. 

The negotiations having been carried as far as was 
possible, pending the decision of the United States for or 
against the proposed agreement, the commissioners returned 


and reported to their respective Governments, and the 
Hawaiian Ministers, pursuant to their promise, submitted the 
suggested agreement for the approval of the United States 
Government. In due course the matter came before the 
United States Senate, where it was finally disposed of by an 
adverse vote. Necker Island thenceforth dropped out of 
sight so far as the Pacific Cable was concerned. 

Before finally dismissing Necker Island, however, it may 
be desirable, to complete the historical survey, to describe 
very briefly the several routes which depended upon that 
island. The shortest of all these routes, and one of the first 
suggested, was from Vancouver Island to Necker ; thence to 
Apamana Island, in the Gilbert group ; thence to San 
Christoval, in the Solomon group ; and, finally, to a point 
at or near Port Denison, Queensland, Australia. This route 
did not include New Zealand, the proposal being to utilize 
the existing cable from Port Jackson to New Zealand. 

Another route, after leaving Necker Island, ran to an 
island several degrees to the south-east of Apamana. There 
it branched, one section running to San Christoval, and 
thence to Australia ; the other turning south to Fiji and 
thence to New Zealand. A third route suggested was from 
Necker direct to Fiji ; and from Fiji to New Zealand. 
Apamana, San Christoval, and Fiji are all British possessions. 

The tenders which had been called for laying the proposed 
cable were received about the time that the United States 
Senate finally gave the quietus to the Necker Island project, 
and these tenders showed conclusively that it was perfectly 
feasible to lay the cable, as originally proposed, by the 
Fanning Island route. This route was consequently adopted. 

It may perhaps be interesting to note, in this connexion, 
that the cost of laying the cable by the longer route to 
Fanning Island amounts to something like two and a quarter 
million dollars in excess of the cost via the Necker Island 
route. Moreover, it will not be possible to send messages as 
effectively — that is to say, at the same rate of speed — by 
the longer route now adopted. This represents the price that 
the Empire has to pay for the failure to secure Necker 


Island ; a failure which, in the end, was certainly inevitable, 
but at one time could have been avoided at the mere cost 
of dispatching a British warship to take formal possession 
of the island. 

Fanning Island (3 51/ N. lat., 159 22' W. long.) is des- 
cribed in the Colonial Office List (1902) as a small atoll, nine 
miles by four, covered with coco-nut trees ; copra and guano 
being exported. 

Fanning Island was annexed by Great Britain in March, 
1888, in view of the possibility of its being utilized in con- 
nexion with the projected cable. At the same time two other 
islands (Christmas and Penrhyn) were taken possession of for 
the same purpose. Christmas Island (i° 57' N. lat., 157 27' 
W. long.) is an atoll ninety miles in circumference, barren, 
with only brackish water. A trading firm collects mother-of- 
pearl shells. Penrhyn Island (9 S. lat., 158 3' long.) is also 
a small atoll, thirty miles in circumference, partly covered 
with coco-nut trees, and having a population of about 300. 
Mother-of-pearl is exported. Suwarrow Island (13 13' 
S. lat., 163 9' W. long.) was also annexed as a possible 
landing-place for the Pacific Cable on the 22nd April, 1888. 
It is now proposed that Suwarrow, Penrhyn, and one or two 
other small islands which were taken about the same time, 
should be annexed to New Zealand. With the exception of 
Fanning Island, none of these small atolls would be available 
for the purposes of the Pacific Cable. How well they could 
have been spared, and that barren little rock, Necker Island, 
annexed in their stead ! But it was not to be. 



In the preceding chapter some account has been given of 
the movement for a British state-owned cable across the 
Pacific from Canada to Australia and New Zealand, a move- 
ment initiated by Sandford Fleming and carried to a success- 
ful conclusion mainly through his efforts, after nearly 
a quarter of a century of persistent agitation. 

Long before the triumph of the movement for a Pacific 
Cable, Fleming's thoughts had turned to the larger scheme 
of a system of submarine cables and land telegraphs circling 
the globe, touching only British territory, and owned by the 
Empire. In fact it is altogether probable that from the 
beginning of his agitation for the Pacific Cable he had the 
wider project in mind, waiting for a fitting opportunity to 
bring it forward. That opportunity came in 1898, when he 
outlined his scheme in a communication addressed to the 
Secretary of State for the Colonies, after the close of the 
Jubilee Conference. Four years later he embodied the 
principal points in a Memorandum, prepared for the informa- 
tion of the members of the Coronation Conference, from 
which the following is taken : 

1 At the Colonial Conference held in London in 1887 the 
delegates discussed at some length various matters bearing 
on the telegraphs of the Empire. Again in 1894, at the 
Ottawa Conference, the discussions were renewed. At in- 
numerable meetings of Chambers of Commerce, Empire 
Leagues, and other associations, the subject has again and 
again been considered. In the interval which has elapsed, 
the project of a British Empire telegraph service has been 
steadily developing. Its outline was submitted in a com- 
munication to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 
October 28, 1898, and the main features of the scheme therein 


set forth may be described as one unbroken chain of State- 
owned telegraphs around the globe, touching or traversing 
all the great British possessions so as to bring each of them 
into direct electric touch with the mother country and with 
each other. In this manner Canada, New Zealand and Aus- 
tralia, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom would be 
brought within the same electric circle. An essential feature 
of the scheme laid down is, that no part of the system should 
touch foreign soil, and that the cables should each and all 
avoid shallow seas, in proximity to any country likely at 
any time to prove unfriendly. The route of the telegraph 
was more precisely described as extending from London to 
Canada, through Canada to Vancouver, from Vancouver 
to New Zealand and Australia, thence to Perth in Western 
Australia, from Perth to South Africa, with a branch from 
Cocos Island to India ; from Capetown it was designed to 
extend to Bermuda, touching at St. Helena, Ascension, and 
Barbados ; at Bermuda a choice of routes to England would 
be opened for selections. It might cross the Atlantic direct 
or, as an alternative, extend northerly to a suitable point of 
junction with the State line between Canada and England. 

' Such a telegraph girdle of the globe would constitute 
a means of connecting all His Majesty's great possessions, 
and nearly all the coaling stations, with each other and with 
the Imperial centre in London. The sub-ocean connexions 
would be deep-sea cables in the least vulnerable position, and 
it may be added that the system would possess an advantage 
peculiar to a globe-encircling line of telegraph ; each point 
touched would be telegraphically connected with every other 
point by two distinct routes, extending in opposite directions. 
This feature possesses special value, and in practice would 
prove the best security against interruptions from whatever 

' Since 1898, when the scheme was promulgated, progress 
has been made in its development : (1) a State-owned cable 
from Canada to New Zealand and Australia is on the eve of 
completion, and (2) a cable has been laid across the Indian 
Ocean from Australia to South Africa. The latter is, how- 


ever, a private undertaking, from which have sprung the 
complications which perplex the Government of the Common- 
wealth of Australia. On this point a brief explanation is 
called for. 

1 It is well known that the telegraph companies have, 
from the first, placed themselves in opposition to the Imperial 
telegraph scheme, and have employed every conceivable 
means to stifle the proposal to establish a Pacific Cable. 

' One main reason for their hostility to the Pacific Cable 
lies in the fact that it forms the most important section of 
the larger proposal, and that the Canadian route is absolutely 
the only route by which the globe may be girdled by a chain 
of all-British cables, the proposal to which they are so 
strongly opposed. When it became known that the six 
Governments concerned had resolved to establish the Pacific 
Cable, the telegraph companies combined, and determined to 
adopt drastic measures in order to defeat the new State policy. 
They saw plainly that a State-owned cable across the Pacific 
would speedily lead to similar cables across the Indian and 
Atlantic Oceans. 

* Accordingly they arranged to preoccupy the ground by 
laying a private cable on the precise route which had pre- 
viously been projected in the Indian, and partly in the 
Atlantic, Ocean for the State-owned line. Moreover, they 
made tempting overtures to the Governments of the Austra- 
lian colonies, offering to reduce the burdensome telegraph 
charges hitherto exacted, provided these Governments 
granted them certain concessions ; which concessions it was 
believed would enable the combined companies to ruin the 
commercial value of the Pacific Cable. There is likewise 
evidence to show that the cable combine took means to 
invoke the powers of the press to influence public opinion in 
their favour. Unfortunately the then Government of New 
South Wales listened to the overtures, and granted what the 
companies asked for. . . . 

( It is not necessary to dwell on the enormous importance 
of having the globe girdled by an all-British State-owned 
telegraph, as its advantages are self-evident. When the 



proposal was made known in December 1898, the British 
and Colonial press, with extraordinary unanimity, expressed 
generally the opinion that the advantages to result are in- 
controvertible ; that nothing would tend more to quicken 
a sense of unity and solidarity throughout the Empire ; that 
at all times it would place it in the power of the Governments 
to regulate and moderate the rates for the transmission of 
messages between all the countries served ; that the im- 
mediate effect would be to facilitate intercourse and foster 
trade, not only between the mother country and the colonies, 
but between the colonies themselves. 

1 One essential point to be insisted on is, that the Imperial 
telegraph girdle must be absolutely State-controlled, in order 
that the main lines of communication of the Empire be placed 
beyond the possibility of interference by trusts and combines, 
that is to say, that they shall remain inviolably British. 

' The expenditure involved would be considerable, but it 
is far outweighed by the incalculable benefit to result. The 
original estimate of expenditure required to establish such 
a telegraph girdle around the globe was £5,000,000 to 
£6,000,000, but this included the Pacific Cable, which will 
cost close on £2,000,000. The Pacific Cable will shortly be 
completed. To provide and lay the remaining cables not far 
short of £4,000,000 will be required. . . . 

' Our common object is the freest intercourse, and this 
object can best be attained by linking together all the great 
outposts of the Empire, precisely as Canada, New Zealand, 
and Australia are now being brought into close relationship 
by means of the Pacific Cable. The Imperial telegraph 
system will embrace in its circuit round the globe three 
great oceans. Of these the Pacific will have its opposite 
shore telegraphically united in a few months. Then will 
remain the Indian and Atlantic Oceans to be traversed by 
nationalized cables. This, the crowning achievement, will 
cost, in round figures, £4,000,000, an insignificant expenditure 
of capital, in view of the immensely important results to be 
attained. It would do more for the Empire as a whole than 
twenty times the amount, spent in any other way whatever. 


It would set at rest the difficulty which has been caused 
in Australia. It would place the telegraph service of the 
Empire on a secure and satisfactory basis, and render 
alienation of the leading cables impossible. It would be 
a fresh tie between all the great colonies and the mother land 
of great practical utility ; it would minimize transmission 
charges, and prodigiously increase the volume of telegraphic 
intercourse ; it would benefit trade, vitalize the spirit of 
patriotism, and strengthen the sentiments which constitute 
the most enduring foundation on which the Empire of the 
future can be built up. The circumstances are such, and 
the benefits so many and so great, that whatever the cost, 
the pan-Britannic telegraph service should, as speedily as 
possible, be carried to completion. 

' The establishment of such a service would affect the 
existing companies. The national telegraph encircling the 
globe would become the main or trunk line of communication 
between the great self-governing portions of the Empire. 
The existing private cables would, to a large extent, assume 
the position of branches to the trunk line, and as such would 
find employment in general and especially in international 
traffic. The charges for transmission by the trunk line 
would be lowered to a minimum, so as merely to cover cost 
of operating, interest and maintenance, and as a consequence 
the business would be immensely increased. The companies 
would gain by the increase, and likewise by the reduced 
charges on the main line, as they would thus be supplied 
with much profitable business for general dissemination. 

1 The private cables were for the most part established 
with commendable enterprise many years ago. They 
received generous Government assistance. They have done 
useful pioneer work, and this work has already yielded to the 
enterprising investors rich returns. The time has come, 
however, when circumstances demand a change. It has 
become a matter of public expediency that the State should 
control an unbroken line of telegraph established for the 
safety and well-being of the Empire. It is possible, there- 
fore, that the companies may have to rest content with more 



moderate gains than hitherto, at least until there be a new 
development of business under the changed conditions. 
That a development of telegraph business beyond all ordi- 
nary conception will result from the establishment of the 
Imperial service there can be no doubt whatever. 

' In the event of a determination being reached to com- 
plete the Imperial telegraph service, before proceeding to lay 
a State cable across the Indian Ocean, the companies should 
be given the option to transfer, at a fair price, the private 
cable recently laid by them between Australia and South 
Africa, and arrangements should likewise be made to connect 
the Cape with the United Kingdom by a State-owned 
cable. These, with the Pacific Cable, will complete the 
globe-encircling telegraph line, designed to link together the 
trans-marine homelands of the British people on the five 
continents. It will prove an Imperial service in every sense. 
It will greatly promote the commercial and industrial well- 
being of all the parts. It will strengthen their relationship, 
and enable the whole fabric the better to withstand any 
stress or strain which the future may bring. 

' There is a rapidly growing desire on the part of the 
British people, everywhere, to strengthen the ties and multi- 
ply the links which unite the mother nation with the daughter 
states. This feeling of attachment prevails in Australia 
and New Zealand. It is especially marked in Canada, and 
the writer feels himself warranted in expressing the fore- 
going views on behalf of Imperial-minded Canadians. 
Their name is legion, and they are prompted only by one 
spirit. Their ardent desire is to join cordially and actively 
in building up the Empire on an enduring basis, that it may 
long continue to confer benefits on the human race/ 

On the successful completion of the Pacific Cable in Octo- 
ber 1902, Sandford Fleming conceived the idea that the 
new link might be utilized to furnish a striking illustration 
of the possibilities of a world-encircling telegraph line. On 
the last day of October he handed in to the telegraph office 
at Ottawa the two following messages, addressed to the 
Governor-General of Canada, Ottawa, one to be sent to the 


westward around the globe, — the other, reversing the course, 
eastward. The first read : ' Congratulations follow the sun 
around the globe via Australia, South Africa, and England on 
completion of the Pacific Cable, initiating new era of freest 
intercourse and cheap telegraph service throughout the 

The second was as follows : ' Receive globe-encircling 
message via England, South Africa, Australia and Pacific 
Cable congratulating Canada and the Empire on completion 
of first segment State-controlled electric girdle, the harbinger 
of incalculable advantages, national and general/ 

In an interview on the completion of the Pacific Cable, 
Fleming outlined his hopes for the future. ' The Pacific 
Cable \ he said, ' is the first result of a co-partnership arrange- 
ment between the Australasian, the Canadian, and the Home 
Governments, and in that respect alone is of great impor- 
tance ; but it is as the initial section of a far greater project 
that I regard it with intense interest. A careful study of 
the question will satisfy any man that the Pacific Cable is 
the only possible key to an Imperial postal cable service 
with ramifications throughout every oversea British posses- 
sion. In view of the larger project, the Pacific Cable should be 
regarded, not as a work completed, but as a great Imperial 
undertaking commenced. I make bold to think that circum- 
stances already demand that every British Government 
should seriously consider the expediency of extending, at no 
distant day, a postal telegraph service to the whole Empire. 
I may add, that the postal telegraph service of the United 
Kingdom is so nearly perfect that, unless something better 
meanwhile be discovered, it may well be taken as the minia- 
ture model of the Imperial service of the future. . . . 

1 Some time will elapse before the great ultimate objects 
will be realized ; that is to say, the extension of the postal 
telegraph service to every part of the Empire, but in the 
common interest, that comprehensive service should be 
steadily kept in view. To me it appears to be necessary, as 
a means of building up the new Empire in process of de- 
velopment, and likewise indispensable to its life and unity. 


In my judgement, it will not only be a direct means of pro- 
moting the welfare of our people, but indirectly prove an 
effective instrument in advancing the cause of civilization. 
Its general tendency will be to promote the peace and happi- 
ness of the human race. . . . 

1 Much as I think that the extension of State telegraphy 
to every part of the Empire should never be lost sight of, 
circumstances render it expedient to take one step at a time. 
The first step has already been taken, and it is a long step 
in the proper direction, for the Pacific Cable is the founda- 
tion upon which the whole fabric may be reared. The next 
step is to extend the State telegraph system from Australia 
across the Indian Ocean, via Cocos Island, to India, and 
from Cocos Island to South Africa. This done, and assum- 
ing that the line from Vancouver to London is also brought 
under State control, we shall have the United Kingdom, 
Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, and South Africa 
brought within instant touch of each other by a continuous 
line of telegraph under the direct control of the State. 

' The third step will be to establish a State-owned line of 
cables from South Africa to England, in order to complete 
the girdle of the globe. Manifestly, a belt of such cables 
round the world, under the one control and management, 
will have its peculiar advantage. Each point in the en- 
circling chain will be in direct connexion with every other 
point, by two routes extending in opposite directions, thus 
giving a double connexion in each case, so that, in the event 
of an interruption on any single section, communications 
may, nevertheless, be maintained. 

' It is true there are telegraphs already connecting the 
Cape with London, but all these telegraphs are owned by 
joint stock companies, and for the most part they are laid 
in shallow seas, and thus rendered extremely vulnerable ; 
they are likewise open to the further objection of touching 
at points not under the British flag. The proposal is to lay 
the State cable in the deep waters of the Atlantic, by extend- 
ing it from the Cape to England via St. Helena, Ascension, 
Barbados, and Bermuda. . . . 


1 Such a chain of cables would prove of unspeakable value 
in countless ways. It would enormously cheapen telegraph- 
ing to and from all points on the line of the electric girdle, 
and within range of its influence. It would link together the 
widely-sundered British communities as nothing else could. 
An endless globe-encircling Imperial telegraph would, like 
the marriage ring, symbolize union, and above and beyond 
every useful purpose in the activities of trade and amenities 
of life, its tendency would be to establish the unity and 
maintain the indivisibility of the Empire. 

' The all-Red Line would, in some respects, resemble the 
spinal cord in the human body ; it would prove to be the 
cerebro -spinal axis of our political system, and give origin 
throughout its length to many lateral groups of nerves. This 
trunk line of State cables around the globe would virtually 
become an annular Medulla Spinalis to the world-Empire, 
through which would freely pass the sensory impressions and 
the motor impulses of the British people in every longitude. 

' It cannot be denied that in the establishment of a State- 
owned all-Red belt of telegraphs such as described, some dis- 
turbance would be caused to the existing private cable system. 
From Australia to South Africa and from South Africa to 
Ascension, the belt line would cover practically the same 
ground as that now occupied by the allied cable companies. 
For this distance only would parallel cables be required, but 
if considered preferable for this distance the private cables 
could be expropriated and a fair price paid for them. In 
this event, the remaining cables, wherever they came in 
contact with the trunk State line, would assume the position 
of branches, and, at the points of junction, they would be 
fed with telegraph traffic at the very lowest rates, for 
general dissemination. Thus, it will be obvious that the 
all-Red globe-encircling belt may advantageously co-exist 
with private lines ; that it would actually prove a feeder to 
them, and give them scope for all reasonable profit. They, 
on their part, would reciprocate by bringing traffic to the 
trunk line.' 

In 1907 the Council of the Ottawa Board of Trade, which 


had for years interested itself in the project of British State- 
owned cables, presented an address to His Excellency Earl 
Grey, then Governor-General of Canada, setting forth the 
advantages of such a system and praying that the subject be 
brought to the attention of the several governments inter- 
ested. In replying to the address, Earl Grey paid a warm 
tribute to the father of the movement : 

' For upwards of twenty-five years ', he said, ' Sir Sandford 
Fleming has devoted his energies to the task of securing for 
Great and Greater Britain the advantages of cheapened 
telegraphic service. The bare recital of his efforts in this 
direction almost suggests the missionary fervour of St. Paul. 
He has without hope of personal gain visited five continents ; 
he has traversed all the great oceans, the Atlantic many 
times ; he has given himself, his time, and his substance, 
ungrudgingly and without stint to the service of the Empire, 
and in the realization of his hopes, which I trust is not far off, 
and in the general recognition that the life of Britons all the 
world over will have been made the happier by his efforts, 
he will find at the appointed time his well-merited reward.' 



The record of Sandford Fleming's tireless advocacy of the 
scheme for a Pacific Cable, and the larger project of a world- 
encircling, State-owned British telegraphic system, would 
not be complete without some statement of his views as to 
the proposed Imperial Intelligence Service. To those who 
have read these pages it must be needless to say that Fleming 
has always been an Imperial Federationist, but his views as 
to the strengthening of the ties binding the various members 
of the Empire run in no narrow groove. He does not pin his 
faith to any one specific formula, nor does he believe that 
a movement of such magnitude can be hastened because 
a few impatient enthusiasts would have it so. Imperial 
Federation, if it is to mean anything to the British Empire, 
must necessarily be a thing of slow growth. To become 
permanent, it must have behind it the settled convictions 
of a majority of the people in each of the great British 
communities that such closer ties will make for their own 
best interests. In any scheme of Imperial Federation that 
can be evolved there must be a certain amount of give and 
take, but it will always be necessary to recognize the fact 
that the self-governing Dominions will never surrender the 
vital principle of autonomy. 

As a means toward the ultimate achievement of Imperial 
Federation, Fleming conceived and advocated the idea of 
a system of State-owned British cables, with all that such 
a system would involve in bringing the peoples of the Empire 
into closer and more intimate touch with one another and 
with their respective interests. His views on the subject 
have been set forth in various public and private documents, 
but perhaps nowhere more clearly and fully than in his open 
letter to the Earl of Elgin, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 


dated January 26, 1906, from which the following is 
taken : 

' More than a hundred and thirty years ago, the great and 
gifted Irishman, Edmund Burke, and the illustrious United 
Empire Loyalist, Joseph Galloway, on opposite sides of the 
ocean, each had visions of a mighty Empire ; more than fifty 
years ago its organization was the dream of the great Cana- 
dian Joseph Howe ; since then it has been the object of 
other great men of various races in various British communi- 
ties, and in yearly increasing numbers. 

' No scheme of Imperial organization is likely, however, 
to be readily and generally acceptable unless and until some 
effective means be taken by and through which the people of 
every portion of the Empire are made better acquainted 
than at present with each other, and with all matters con- 
cerning their mutual well-being. This points directly to the 
first step which the circumstances of the case appear to 
demand — the establishment of an adequate service for 
disseminating useful knowledge throughout the Empire for 
the mutual advantage of all. I am satisfied that such a 
service, established under Imperial authority, and properly 
organized to accomplish the desired ends, would prove a 
powerful and effective educating influence. I believe there 
is nothing which would more speedily tend to bring about 
the harmonious union of all British communities. 

' At present we have, it is true, the Imperial postal service ; 
but owing to distance and the time taken in transit, this 
service is entirely inadequate. No satisfactory exchange of 
thought, or general discussion, can be carried on when it 
requires two or three months to get a reply to any kind of 
postal communication. It may be said that delegates could 
be sent from one country to another to make speeches and 
deliver lectures ; but the audiences in all such cases would 
be limited. The circumstances require not simply that 
lectures or post-prandial speeches be heard by a few on 
special occasions, but that the millions be reached frequently. 
This, I am satisfied, is the first problem to be solved, unless 
the consolidation of the Empire is to be indefinitely post- 


poned. That it can be solved, and most effectively, I have 
no doubt whatever, by utilizing the electric telegraph, and 
by combining its use with the daily and other journals in each 
British community. Through the co-operation of Cables 
and the Press we would come into the possession of the very 
best medium for conveying selected intelligence to the 
millions who read the newspapers, and whose children 
attend school. Immense good can be done through the 
schools in the British world in giving direction to our politi- 
cal destiny, but that subject cannot be dwelt upon here.' 

After referring to the proposals of Sir Frederick Pollock 
and his associates for an Imperial organization, as sum- 
marized in an article in the Nineteenth Century in December 
1905, he goes on to outline his scheme for an Imperial 
Intelligence Service. ' In addition to a central board in 
the British metropolis ', he says, ' there should be local 
boards and agencies in each self-governing community, 
where desired information would be collected. It would be 
the duty of each board to take proper means to arrange and 
edit the information for free transmission by cable to the 
other boards, and by them made available for simultaneous 
publication in the daily or weekly journals in all the great 
cities of the Empire. By this means the people of the 
whole Empire would be brought into continuous touch. 
Each person on opening his daily newspaper would look into 
the column or columns under the heading " Empire Cable 
News " for the Imperial intelligence of the day, and would 
there find a trustworthy record of the matters of most vital 
importance and interest to every British community. 

1 No argument is needed to point out the advantages which 
would spring from such an agency. It is impossible to 
conceive any other means which would so speedily and so 
effectively enlighten the masses of the British people on all 
matters which concern their common welfare. Even small 
portions of such Empire news regularly furnished daily in 
the newspapers would be a thousand times better than the 
almost entire absence of such intelligence which now gener- 
ally obtains. It undoubtedly would have a powerful 


educative influence, and the high political effect would be to 
foster a broad Imperial patriotism. It would open to the 
intelligence of all our people, within the circle of the Empire 
Cables, wider issues connected with the advancement and 
development of the Imperial fabric, and we are warranted 
in believing that it would stimulate the sense of common 
citizenship, and, in time, lead to reciprocal affinity eventually 
approaching a general unity of ideas. The machinery of 
a fully-equipped Intelligence Department once provided, 
we may then with confidence assume that the better union 
and the collective prosperity of the British Empire " may 
be wisely left to develop in accordance with circumstances, 
and, as it were, of their own accord ". 

1 I share very fully with every one with whom I have 
conferred, the opinion that satisfactory results must reason- 
ably be expected to follow the establishment of a wisely 
arranged Intelligence Department. The Imperial press 
service suggested would tell its story and perform its func- 
tions not once, not intermittently, but daily throughout 
every year. It would, like the continual dropping of water, 
produce effective results. By means of this perennial flow 
we may confidently hope to have the spirit and principles 
of the British Constitution in course of time pervading, 
invigorating, vivifying the whole Empire, and it is firmly 
believed that such results would be accomplished more 
speedily and more thoroughly in this way than by any other 
means. It is this spirit and these principles, inherited from 
the centuries, which would beget that sympathy and affec- 
tion which, although as light as the air we breathe, would 
constitute the cohesive forces to bind together the Empire 
under one flag and one sovereign as with bands of steel. 

' As an illustration of the great need of an Imperial Intelli- 
gence organization such as that which has been outlined, 
I may instance the following facts. A remarkable address 
was delivered by the Honourable Alfred Deakin (now Prime 
Minister of Australia) on June 14, 1905. It was published in 
Melbourne, by the Imperial Federation League of Victoria, 
in pamphlet form, but as far as I know not a single copy of 


the address in any form reached Ottawa until January 25, 
1906. On that day I read the address for the first time, and 
I unhesitatingly say that this very able and scholarly de- 
liverance on a momentous question in which all citizens of the 
Empire are as much interested as Australians, should have 
long since been placed before every Canadian. The State 
Cable which unites Canada with Australia lies idle at the 
bottom of the Pacific for more than twenty hours in each 
twenty-four ; it has a complete staff of the very best opera- 
tors in constant attendance, and it would add absolutely 
nothing to the working expenses of the undertaking to have 
the cable usefully employed during some of its idle hours. 
The address containing probably 10,000 words could easily 
have been transmitted in one day, and still more easily by 
instalments in several days, in any case without interfering 
with ordinary cable business. This thoughtful utterance of 
an Imperial statesman of the first rank is precisely the kind 
of literature which a discerning officer of the proposed 
Intelligence Department would select for transmission by 
cable soon after its delivery, but it only reached Canada 
incidentally after seven months had elapsed.' 

In an address before the United Empire Club of London, 
Fleming went more at length into the question of the prac- 
ticability and advantages of a comprehensive and authorita- 
tive Imperial news service furnished by cable, without cost, 
to newspapers in every part of the Empire. ' It has been 
suggested ', he says, ' that for high Imperial reasons the 
co-operation of the press should be sought. The press has 
much in its power to promote unity and progress ; its highest 
functions are to spread knowledge, enlighten the people, and 
mould their destiny. But the press must have freedom, 
and it should enjoy every advantage in performing its 
beneficent work which science can devise. 

1 I have shown that the State-owned cable service, em- 
ployed only half the day at a low tariff of charges, can be 
self-supporting. May we not fittingly inquire, is there no 
useful purpose to which we can apply during the whole or 
a portion of this other half-day this wonderful means of 


communication established at the public cost for the public 
advantage, in the sense of the free transmission of news 
under proper restrictions ? I ask to what better purpose can 
the cable be applied during some of its idle hours than in 
co-operation with a free press to promote general intercourse 
and benefit the British people ? 

1 Before the days of telegraphy those who had emigrated 
to the colonies anxiously awaited the arrival of ships with 
the mails, and on the ship's arrival they greedily devoured 
the newspapers. The mail is now inadequate as a means 
of conveying news between places widely separated by the 
seas. It is an incident of modern civilization that the people 
will not read old newspapers, however excellent they may be, 
at least not with the same avidity as cabled intelligence. 
The reader of to-day must have news that is not old. Few 
in Canada and still fewer in New Zealand or Australia read 
the London newspapers which for weeks have been buried 
in a mail bag. This age demands up-to-date news, and the 
demand can I believe easily be met by affiliating the press 
under proper arrangements with the cable service. 

' I venture to think that to organize an Imperial Intelli- 
gence Department such as has been indicated will come to be 
regarded as an eminently progressive movement. And I feel 
satisfied that in conjunction with the world-girdling chain 
of State Cables there is no other conceivable agency which 
would more speedily mould our great world-Empire into a 
living reality.' 

In July 1906, Fleming addressed the Eighty Club in 
London on the same subject, and subsequently replied to 
certain criticisms that had been offered to his proposals. 

■ The chief claim made for the proposal is,' he said, ' not 
so much that it may be regarded as a substitute for other 
schemes heretofore advanced having for their object the 
unification of the Empire, but that if any substantial pro- 
gress is to be made in that direction, as it seems to me, the 
policy suggested must take precedence of any such schemes ; 
that if it be pre-eminently necessary to have freer intercourse 
with fuller and closer political, commercial, and social rela- 


tions between the different States which go to make up the 
Empire, there is no conceivable means by which these objects 
can more easily and more naturally be achieved. 

1 The proposal is not solely in the interests of these islands, 
vastly important as they are ; it is not for the benefit of any 
one class, or of any one section of the British people ; it is 
projected in the interests of the entire Empire, and its object 
is to advance the concrete well-being of the British people 
throughout the world. It is designed for the benefit of every 
Britain beyond the seas equally with the mother of them all. 

' The burden of the criticisms by the speakers was the fear 
that in practice it would be no easy matter to arrange for the 
selection and transmission of news to be cabled from day to 
day or from week to week so as to give general satisfaction. 
As this matter presents itself to my mind, the first thing 
necessary is the appointment of a proper controlling au- 
thority and impartial tribunal. In my view the first con- 
sideration is an efficient and responsible Board of Control 
with head-quarters in London, assisted by branch Boards in 
the several oversea communities which have been referred 
to. I am satisfied that there would be no difficulty in each 
government selecting a sufficient number of representative, 
independent, public-spirited, moderate-minded men to act 
in an honorary capacity as members of an Imperial Intelli- 
gence Board in each capital city. 

' The chief duty of these Boards would be to direct the 
policy to be followed, and to appoint a staff of paid officers, 
including a chief and assistant editor, to carry out that policy 
efficiently. The staff would be responsible to each respec- 
tive Board. The number of such paid officers would depend 
upon the plan adopted, and this I shall presently allude to. 
Whatever the number, it would be no more difficult for the 
Boards of Control to obtain on satisfactory business terms 
men equally able, equally faithful to their duties, as the 
editorial staffs employed by the great public journals, and 
we all know how well the world is served through the press 
in this respect. 

' As the proposal is not an ordinary dividend-seeking 


project, but a great Intelligence Union with high Imperial 
aims, it is undesirable and it is quite unnecessary to maintain 
high rates for the transmission of messages. Cheap cable 
telegraphy must be recognized to be a powerful, indeed an 
indispensable, aid to Imperial consolidation. It is therefore 
felt that the policy should be adopted of reducing progres- 
sively the charges on messages transmitted by the circle of 
Empire Cables to rates which, while still leaving the service 
self-supporting, would be the lowest possible. It is capable 
of proof that if this policy be adopted two results will follow 
after providing for actual working expenses : (i) For several 
hours daily the Board of Control will be enabled to transmit 
free press messages for simultaneous publication in the 
United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, 
South Africa, and elsewhere. (2) The charges on ordinary 
paying traffic will steadily be lowered and will gradually 
approach a minimum. Under this policy we would have 
public messages transmitted free or at a mere nominal rate, 
and if we apply the principle of a uniform charge for all 
distances (as in Imperial penny-postage) there are the best 
reasons for anticipating a wonderful reduction in the rate for 
the transmission of ordinary paying messages by the route 
of the great girdle of Imperial Cables. I can see no reason 
why the charge should not eventually be reduced to the 
uniform rate of a penny a letter, or sixpence a word, between 
the mother country and each of the countries named, as well 
as reciprocally between any two of them. The immense 
advantage of such a possible reduction will be readily 
appreciated when it is remembered that the present charge 
between Great Britain and Australia is three shillings per 
word, and at the time of the Colonial Conference of 1887, 
when the Pacific Cable was first earnestly considered, the 
common charge was nine shillings a word.' Although he 
nowhere suggests such an idea, it is worth remembering that 
if to-day we have a cable rate very much less than it was in 
1887, with the prospect of still further reductions, we have 
mainly to thank Sandford Fleming. 
' With respect to the course to be followed by the con- 


trolling Boards in carrying on the Intelligence Service,' 
he continues, ' two general plans suggest themselves for 

' The first plan — each Board to take means through an 
efficient staff of paid officers to collect information of general 
interest desirable to be made known in distant parts. Such 
information, after being arranged and properly edited for 
publication, to be regularly transmitted by telegraph and 
made available for the press throughout the Empire free of 

1 The second or alternative plan is to leave the question of 
the supply of news within the Empire in the hands of the 
press as at present, and to encourage and secure the trans- 
mission of a copious supply of desirable information by 
lowering the press charge to a merely nominal rate. I am 
reminded that this principle is already adopted in the United 
Kingdom, where the press rate is reduced to less than one- 
eighth of a penny per word (15. for 100 words) for any 
distance. This reduction is made purely in the interest of 
the general public, and it seems to me that the same principle 
may with inestimable advantage be applied to the infinitely 
larger area of the British Empire by means of the globe- 
girdling Imperial Cable system. 

1 The second plan, if not so comprehensive -as the first, 
would, if adopted, indefinitely widen the present most re- 
stricted and meagre scope of the press cable service through- 
out the Empire. It would leave the question of the selection 
of news in the hands of those well fitted for the duty. By 
promoting emulation among representatives of the press it 
would pave the way for a daily review in many instances of 
the progress of events and occurrences in the sisterhood of 
British States, which would do more than any other agency 
to foster an intelligent intimacy, mould a broad public 
opinion, promote mutual sympathy, and present the Empire 
as a living reality to all. 

1 The two plans have each distinct merits. While the 
first would best meet the needs of much of the outer Empire, 
the second would probably better suit London and the 



populous colonial capitals. It would likewise, as it appears 
to me, remove every difficulty in respect to the selection of 
matter to be transmitted for publication. I incline to the 
opinion that the merits of both suggestions should be secured 
by a combination of the two plans ; but this is a point that 
can be determined by a joint committee duly appointed, or 
by the Boards of Control when they come to be constituted. 
'The essential feature of the scheme', he concluded, ' is to 
make for that knowledge without which attempts to organize 
the Empire may be fruitful of disaster if they in any way 
interfere with that complete local autonomy so jealously 
prized. I apprehend it will be obvious to all that the scheme 
submitted, embraces the principle of inter-Imperial co- 
operation, and is designed to form in a very practical manner 
a complete bond of union between the old land and all the 
new lands ; that it is an instrument to enable us to ascertain 
what to avoid and what to accept ; that its tendency must 
be to reconcile the interests of the whole with the interests of 
each part, and to foster a oneness of sentiment, a unity of 
sympathy pre-eminently necessary to bring home the feeling 
to our people the world over that they are part of a great 
political organism whose chief mission is progress and peace. 
I venture to think that every patriotic man will recognize in 
such a co-operative bond of union and friendship, embracing 
the widest geographical range, a powerful and peaceful 
means of giving shape and growth and solidarity to the 
modern Empire/ 



On the shelves of the library at ■ Winterholme ' are three 
very fat volumes, containing the documentary history of 
the movement for Standard Time. The volumes consist of 
scores of pamphlets ranging in date from 1876 to 1896, 
a large proportion of them by Sandford Fleming. 

Fleming in one of his diaries tells how the need for a reform 
in the cumbersome system of time-reckoning was first 
brought home to him. The story is a delightful example of 
the way great movements grow out of trivial incidents. In 
July 1876 he had landed at Londonderry, on his way to 
Scotland, to pay a visit to a friend near Sligo, somewhat 
remote from any railway. After consulting the Official 
Irish Travelling Guide he had determined on a route by 
which apparently he could reach his destination one day 
and return to Londonderry the night of the day following. 
The journey was by railway to Enniskillen sixty miles, 
thence by public car to Manor Hamilton thirty miles, thence 
by private carriage to Killennumery eight miles. Next day 
he proposed to leave in time to drive to Bandoran forty-two 
miles, in order to catch a train which the Official Guide 
indicated would leave at 5.35 p.m., enabling him to reach 
Londonderry at 10 o'clock the same evening. 

The traveller set out, reached the house of his friend 
the first day without difficulty, and the following morning 
started in a conveyance specially engaged to take him to 
Bandoran in time for the 5.35 p.m. train. Incidentally, 
Fleming, finding horse and driver of the same leisurely race, 
and the chances of making his train somewhat uncertain, 
persuaded the driver to mend his pace not by abusing him, 
but by praising his steed. 

The experiment was entirely successful, and the traveller 
actually reached Bandoran at 5.10 p.m., with apparently 



twenty minutes to spare. The station, however, was deserted, 
and no train anywhere in sight. After some difficulty the 
station-master was discovered and appealed to for an 
explanation. He asserted emphatically that there was no 
train that night, and on being shown the Official Guide, 
pointed triumphantly to his own printed time-table on the 
office wall, which read 5.35 a.m. instead of 5.35 p.m. 

One result of this trifling typographical error was that 
Fleming had to remain at a dreary little station until the 
following day, and as all the supposed connexions were upset 
by the error in time, he did not reach Londonderry until 
1.30 in the afternoon of the third day, losing sixteen and 
a half hours, with a great deal of inconvenience to himself 
and others. Another and more important result was to 
convince him that the prevailing method of measuring time 
was cumbersome and antiquated. However well it may 
have suited our forefathers of stage-coach days, it was not at 
all designed to meet the needs of an age of rapid transporta- 
tion. With Fleming to see a problem was to seek a remedy, 
and he immediately set himself to study the whole question 
of the measurement of time. The solution of the original 
problem was obviously the substitution of a twenty-four 
hour day for the system of dividing the day into two series 
of twelve hours. This led, however, to a much larger and 
more complicated question — the adoption of a uniform 
system of time-reckoning, and a prime meridian common to 
all nations. 

Before the close of 1876 Fleming had prepared a memoir 
on the subject, which was immediately printed for private 
circulation under the title ' Terrestrial Time \ It attracted 
a good deal of attention among scientific men, particularly in 
America, where the planning and building of great trans- 
continental railways was already making the question one 
of serious importance. The memoir was subsequently re- 
written and expanded as a paper for the Canadian Institute, 
and published in the Proceedings for 1879. 

' The application of steam to locomotion by land and 
water', says Fleming, in the 1876 memoir, 'has given an 


enormous stimulus to progress throughout the world, and 
with the electric telegraph as an auxiliary has somewhat 
rudely shaken customs and habits which have been handed 
down to us from bygone centuries. We still cling, however, 
to the system of Chronometry inherited from a remote 
antiquity, notwithstanding difficulties and inconsequences 
which are constantly met in every part of the world, but 
which are so familiar to us that they are not regarded, or are 
silently endured. . . . 

' To illustrate the points of difficulty, let us first take the 
case of a traveller in North America. He lands, let us say, 
at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and starts on a railway journey 
through the eastern portions of Canada. His route is over 
the Intercolonial and Grand Trunk lines. He stops at 
St. John, Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. At the 
beginning of the journey he sets his watch by Halifax time. 
As he reaches each place in succession, he finds a consider- 
able variation in the clocks by which the trains are run, and 
he discovers that at no two places is the same time used. 
Between Halifax and Toronto he finds the railways employ- 
ing no less than five different standards of time. If the 
traveller remained at any one of the cities referred to he 
would be obliged to alter his watch in order to avoid much 
inconvenience, and perhaps not a few disappointments and 
annoyances to himself and others. If, however, he should 
not alter his watch, he would discover on reaching Toronto 
that it was an hour and five minutes faster than the clocks 
and watches in that city/ 

Fleming points out that ' in the United States ' (and the 
same argument would to-day apply equally to Canada), ' the 
inconvenience was even greater, . . . the difference in time 
between New York and San Francisco being nearly three 
hours and a half. Between these extreme points there are 
many standards of time, each city of any importance having 
its own. The railway companies have to conform to this 
state of things, and, as in Canada, are obliged to adopt local 
standards. Hence the discrepancies in time which perplex 
the traveller in moving from place to place.' The same 


difficulty was of course experienced in Europe, the time 
employed by the different railways changing constantly as 
one travelled east or west. 

* Suppose ', he says, ' we take the case of a person travelling 
from London to India. He starts with Greenwich time, but 
he scarcely leaves the shores of England when he finds his 
watch no longer right. Paris time is used for the journey 
until that of Rome becomes the standard. At Brindisi there 
is another change. Up the Mediterranean ship's time is used. 
At Alexandria Egyptian time is the standard. At Suez 
ship's time is resumed, and continues with daily changes until 
India is reached. Arriving at Bombay, the traveller will 
find two standards employed, local time and railway time, 
the latter being that of Madras. If he has not altered his 
watch since he left England he will find it some five hours 
slow; should he continue his journey to China it will have 
fallen eight hours behind.' 

The memoir then goes into a discussion of the scientific 
aspect of the subject, the three natural measures of time, the 
solar, lunar, and sidereal days, which need not be repeated 

The historical side of the question is more generally 
interesting. Fleming points out that ' in China and some 
other parts of the world no half-days are used. The Chinese 
divide the day into twelve parts, each being equal to two 
hours of our time ; these they again divide into eight parts, 
thus subdividing the whole day into ninety-six equal parts. 
The Italians, the Bohemians, and the Poles have a division 
of the day into twenty-four parts, numbered from the first 
to the twenty-fourth — from one o'clock to twenty-four 

* In Japan there are four principal points of division — at 
noon, midnight, sunset, and sunrise — dividing the natural 
day into four variable parts. These four parts are divided 
each into three equal portions, together making twelve hours. 
Each hour is again divided into twelve parts, thus making 
in all one hundred and forty-four subdivisions of the day. 
The six hours between sunrise and sunset differ in length 


day by day from the six hours between sunset and sunrise. 
During the summer the hours of the day are much longer 
than those of the night, and shorter on the contrary in 
the winter. 

' The division of that portion of the day during which the 
sun is above the horizon into twelve parts belongs to the 
remotest ages of antiquity. The division of the other 
portion, which embraces the period of darkness, into the 
same number of parts, was introduced at Rome in the time 
of the Punic wars. The system of dividing the day by the 
rising and setting of the sun makes the hours indefinite 
periods, as they continuously change with the seasons. Ex- 
cept at the equinoxes the hours of the night and day can 
never be of equal length. Near the equator the variations 
are least ; they increase with every degree of latitude until 
the Arctic and Antarctic circles are reached, within which 
a maximum is attained. Even in the latitude of Rome the 
length of the hours of daylight and darkness under this 
system have an extreme difference of seventy-five minutes. 

' The day is reckoned to begin in China before midnight, 
the first hour extending from 11.0 p.m. to 1.0 a.m. of our 
mode of reckoning. The Jews, Turks, Austrians, and others, 
with some of the Italians, have begun their day at sunset. 
The Arabians begin their day at noon, and in this respect 
they resemble the astronomers and navigators of modern 
nations. It has been customary in Japan to adhere to the 
practice of the ancient Babylonians in beginning their day 
at sunrise. 

' The Babylonians, Persians, Syrians, Greeks, and other 
ancient nations, began their day at sunrise, and had divisions 
corresponding to morning, forenoon, mid-day, afternoon, 
evening, and night. The ancient, like the modern, Arabians, 
began their day at noon. The Chaldean astronomers 
divided their day into sixty parts ; like the modern Chinese 
they also had a division of the day into twelve hours. The 
ancient Egyptians (probably 1000 B. c.) divided the day 
equally into day and night, and again subdivided each half 
into twelve hours, numbered from one to twelve ; the night 


with them commenced six hours before and terminated six 
hours after midnight ; the day began six hours before noon 
and lasted twelve hours, or until six hours after noon. . . . 

' From what has been set forth, it would appear that man 
has reckoned the day to begin at sunrise, at sunset, at noon, 
at midnight, at one hour before midnight, at six hours before 
midnight, and at six hours before noon ; and that he has 
divided it in a great variety of ways : ist, into two, four, 
twelve, twenty-four, and one hundred and forty-four unequal 
parts ; 2nd, into two, four, six, eight, twelve, twenty-four, 
forty-eight, sixty, and ninety-six equal parts, without includ- 
ing the small subdivisions of minutes and seconds. The 
common practice at present with most civilized nations is to 
divide the day into two series of twelve hours each, a custom 
which corresponds very closely to that followed by the 
ancient Egyptians long before the Christian era. Thus 
while we have made extraordinary advances in all the 
arts and sciences and in their application to everyday 
life, we find ourselves clinging to a conventional and in- 
convenient mode of computing time ; one not materially 
different from that practised by the Egyptians perhaps thirty 
centuries ago.' 

In discussing reforms in the methods of computing time, 
Fleming recognized at once that it would be much more 
practicable to so devise them that they could be engrafted on 
the deep-rooted present system, than to attempt to estab- 
lish an entirely new system. He therefore took as the unit- 
measure of time the artificial day known as the mean solar 
day, this unit to be divided into twenty-four equal parts, 
and these again into minutes and seconds by a standard 
timekeeper or chronometer, hypothetically stationed at the 
centre of the earth. In practice the standard might be 
stationed anywhere on the earth's surface, or there might be 
any number of standards, the telegraph affording the means 
of securing perfect synchronism all over the earth. It was 
proposed that the twenty-four divisions should be known by 
the letters of the alphabet, that each should be assumed to 
correspond with a certain known meridian of longitude 


which would be known by the same letter, and that the 
machinery of the standard instrument should be so arranged 
and regulated that the index or hour hand would point in 
succession to each of the twenty-four divisions as it became 
noon at the corresponding meridian. The time indicated 
by these standard instruments was to be known as ' ter- 
restrial ' or ' universal ' time, to distinguish it from local or 
other time. The general application of this system, par- 
ticularly to railway and steamship lines, would remove the 
difficulties and inconveniences inseparable from the practice 
of regulating transportation by local time. In his memoir 
Fleming also gave details of various methods by which 
watches and clocks could without serious difficulty be made 
to indicate both terrestrial and local time. 

It is pointed out that ' the scheme advocated would in- 
volve no great fundamental change. The ancient custom 
need not be discontinued. It is merely suggested that it be 
improved and that such modifications be introduced as are 
rendered necessary by the conditions of an age in which all 
portions of the habitable globe are being occupied by civilized 
communities, and brought into constant communication by 
steamboat, railway, and electric telegraph.' 

Having formulated his ideas, and put them into print, 
Fleming proceeded with his usual energy and perseverance to 
bring them to the attention of the civilized world. As might 
be expected it proved to be an uphill fight, for in such matters 
the world is for the most part stolidly conservative. Spas- 
modic attempts had indeed been made at various times and 
places to establish something in the nature of standard time 
— for instance, as early as 1842 the distribution of accurate 
standard time obtained by astronomical observations was 
first put into practice in Canada through the magnetic 
observatory at Toronto — but no serious attempt had hitherto 
been made to establish a system common to the world. 

In 1878 Fleming brought the subject to the attention of 
the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 
feeling, as he says, that this society ' having been established 
for promoting the general welfare was the body above all 


others to which any proposition having so universal an 
application should be submitted.' He offered to submit 
a paper, and his offer was formally accepted. The paper was 
prepared and an outline sent to the Secretary of the Associa- 
tion. Fleming was informed that it would come before the 
section of Mathematics and Physical Science. Fleming went 
to Dublin, where the Association was meeting that year, and 
notified the Secretary that he was prepared to read his paper 
whenever called upon. He was put off from day to day. 
Finally he was informed that the Committee had decided his 
paper should be read on the 21st August. The meeting had 
opened on the 14th. The section closed its sessions on the 
20th. Fleming's paper, although ample notice had been 
given, was at the end of the list, and was coolly ignored. 
' I attended the section ', he says, ' until the meeting closed, 
but no opportunity was given me to introduce it. There was 
still another day, so I approached the Secretary and en- 
deavoured to make some arrangement for its being read in 
the morning. I was curtly told that the section would not 
meet again, as all the papers but mine had been disposed of, 
and he took upon himself to add that the reading of my paper 
was of little consequence. I deemed it my duty to bring 
the circumstances under the notice of the President of the 
Association, but my letter did not receive the slightest 

Commenting on the subject some years afterward, on his 
return from the Pacific coast, he says : ' It struck me as 
a singular coincidence that among the first things that I read 
in the Chicago newspapers was the notice of a meeting of the 
railway managers of the United States and Canada, to take 
definite action on the subject of regulating time, so un- 
pleasantly disposed of in Dublin by the British Association, 
and that the Association itself was coming to Canada to learn 
that the managers of one hundred thousand miles of railway, 
travelled over by fifty millions of people on this continent, 
had taken the first important step in the scheme of cosmo- 
politan time reckoning which, as an Association, it had 
officially and offensively refused to entertain.' As a result of 


this meeting in Chicago, in October 1883, the Standard Hour 
system went into force throughout North America the follow- 
ing month. But this is anticipating a little. In the interval 
the subject had been considered by various societies on both 
sides of the Atlantic, in a broader and more intelligent spirit 
than that shown by the British Association. 

In 1880 Dr. Daniel Wilson, president of the Canadian 
Institute, in a memorandum on Cosmopolitan Time and 
a Prime Meridian Common to all Nations, drew particular 
attention to Fleming's proposed solution of the question, and 
in commending the idea quoted a communication from the 
Royal Society (of England) to the Governor-General of 
Canada, approving of the plan for a system of cosmopolitan 
time as simple and well devised. Fleming had also advo- 
cated, as an essential condition of his scheme, the universal 
adoption of a prime meridian through the Pacific Ocean 
entirely avoiding the land of any nationality. He argued 
that it would be much less difficult to secure the support of 
the different nations for such a meridian than for one, such 
as that of Greenwich, running through territory of a particular 
country. The Royal Society felt that it would be difficult to 
obtain the concurrence of individual nations even in such an 
ultra-national project, though admitting its manifest ad- 
vantages. The Canadian Institute, the American Metro- 
logical Society, and several national scientific bodies in 
Europe, after careful consideration of the proposal, gave it 
whole-hearted support. 

Dr. Wilson warmly recommended Fleming's scheme, and 
added : ' He has submitted his views free from all local bias, 
and has aimed at the selection of an initial meridian and 
time-zero which while awakening no national susceptibilities 
would be generally acceptable to all civilized nations. It is 
earnestly hoped that this attempt to deal with an acknow- 
ledged impediment, alike to international scientific operations 
and to the rapidly extending relations of trade and com- 
merce, will be considered in a liberal spirit, and that civilized 
nations may be found not unwilling to concur in a pro- 
posal which offers a ready means of bringing into use some 


scientific system of reckoning time such as the age seems to 

Through the British Government, Fleming's proposals 
were brought to the attention of the Imperial Academy of 
Science of St. Petersburg. They were favourably reported 
upon by the Russian astronomer, Otto Struve, and received 
the support of the Academy. 

The same year (1880) Fleming proposed to the American 
Metrological Society the organization of an International 
Committee on Standard Time, and stated that the Canadian 
Institute had already adopted a resolution to that end. The 
Metrological Society cordially agreed, and a joint committee 
of the two bodies was appointed. The next step was to 
appoint delegates from the two societies to the International 
Geographical Congress in Venice the following year. 

Fleming attended the Congress as one of the delegates 
representing the American and Canadian societies, and on 
September 21st read a paper on the Adoption of a Prime 
Meridian, and proposed a series of resolutions. These were 
referred to a special committee, and subsequently recom- 
mended to the favourable consideration of the Congress, and 
adopted. It was also resolved that, with the concurrrence 
of the Government of the United States, an International 
Conference should be held in Washington in May 1883, to 
deal further with the questions of the determination of 
a common prime meridian, and a system of universal time 

In December 1881, at the suggestion of Fleming, the 
Metrological Society presented a memorial to the President 
of the United States, requesting him to call an International 
Time Convention in Washington in 1883. The matter came 
before Congress in 1882, and by joint resolution the President 
was authorized to call the conference. 

Meantime Fleming had personally brought the matter to 
the attention of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and 
the American Society for the Advancement of Science, both of 
which bodies gave it favourable consideration, the former 
appointing a Special Committee on Standard Time of which 


Fleming was made chairman. This committee sent out 
a circular of questions to scientists, engineers, railway officials, 
and others more or less directly interested in the standard 
time question, which made it clear that there was a wide- 
spread recognition of the importance and opportuneness of 
the movement. The matter was also favourably considered 
by the Association for the Reform and Codification of the 
Laws of Nations, at the Cologne meeting in 1881, and in this 
and the following years by learned societies in England, 
France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Belgium, 
and Switzerland. In October 1883, the International Geodetic 
Association met in Rome, and among other conclusions de- 
cisively expressed its opinion in favour of the adoption of 
the meridian of Greenwich as the common zero of time 

The International Prime Meridian Conference actually 
met in Washington in October 1884. In the official letter of 
the Secretary of State of the United States, inviting the 
Governments of other nations to send delegates to the Con- 
ference, it is pointed out that, ' in the absence of a common 
and accepted standard for the computation of time for other 
than astronomical purposes, embarrassments are experienced 
in the ordinary affairs of modern commerce ; that this em- 
barrassment is especially felt since the extension of tele- 
graphic and railway communications has joined states and 
continents possessing independent and widely separated 
meridional standards of time ; that the subject of a common 
meridian has been for several years past discussed in this 
country and in Europe by commercial and scientific bodies, 
and the need of a general agreement upon a single standard 
recognized ; and that in recent European conferences es- 
pecially, favour was shown to the suggestion that, as the 
United States possesses the greatest longitudinal extension 
of any country traversed by railway and telegraph lines, the 
initiatory measures for holding an international convention 
to consider so important a subject should be taken by this 
(United States) Government.' It is added that the President 
of the United States is convinced of the good to flow eventually 


from the adoption of a common time unit applicable through- 
out the globe. 

Twenty-five independent nations were represented at the 
Conference, including practically all the countries of Europe, 
the South American Republics, Japan, Mexico, and Liberia. 
The Conference sat for about a month, discussing the ques- 
tion in all its bearings. At the outset Fleming submitted 
a series of recommendations with explanatory remarks, which 
were carefully considered. Other proposals were brought 
forward by the delegates of different nations. Finally the 
Conference adopted the following Resolutions, by a prac- 
tically unanimous vote : 

1 1. That it is the opinion of this Congress that it is desirable 
to adopt a single prime meridian for all nations, in place of 
the multiplicity of initial meridians which now exist. 

' II. That the Conference proposes to the Governments 
here represented the adoption of the meridian passing 
through the centre of the transit instrument at the Obser- 
vatory of Greenwich as the initial meridian for longitude. 

* III. That from this meridian longitude shall be counted 
in two directions up to 180 degrees, east longitude being plus 
and west longitude minus. 

1 IV. That the Conference proposes the adoption of a uni- 
versal day for all purposes for which it may be found con- 
venient, and which shall not interfere with the use of local or 
other standard time where desirable. 

' V. That this universal day is to be a mean solar day ; is 
to begin for all the world at the moment of mean midnight of 
the initial meridian, coinciding with the beginning of the 
civil day and date of that meridian ; and is to be counted 
from zero up to twenty-four hours. 

' VI. That the Conference expresses the hope that as soon 
as may be practicable the astronomical and nautical days 
will be arranged everywhere to begin at mean midnight. 

1 VII. That the Conference expresses the hope that the 
technical studies designed to regulate and extend the ap- 
plication of the decimal system to the division of angular 
space and of time shall be resumed so as to permit the ex- 


tension of this application to all cases in which it presents 
real advantages.' 

In the second Resolution, San Domingo alone voted in the 
negative ; France and Brazil abstained from voting. In the 
fifth Resolution, Spain, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey voted 
in the negative. The principles embodied in the first and 
sixth Resolutions were adopted unanimously. 

On January 1, 1885, tne 2 4 o'clock system was adopted at 
the Greenwich Observatory, the seat of control for all the 
public clocks of Great Britain. As already mentioned, the 
railways of the United States and Canada had adopted 
standard time in October 1883. In a circular issued by the 
Canadian Pacific Railway in June 1886, the 24-hour system 
was officially adopted for use on the company's lines. 
Despite the action of the Washington Conference, however, 
the nations were slow to take action in the matter of the 
adoption of a prime meridian common to all. As Fleming had 
foreseen, national jealousies stood in the way of the general 
acceptance of Greenwich. Nevertheless, the agitation had 
been helpful in creating a recognition everywhere of the im- 
portance of agreeing upon a universal prime meridian, and 
sooner or later the efforts of Fleming and his associates all over 
the world will bear fruit. Meantime, he was able to announce 
in a paper read before the Royal Society of Canada in 1890 
that standard time had been adopted throughout North 
America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico, 
in Great Britain, Sweden, and Central Europe, and in the 
Japanese Empire. It was subsequently adopted in Australia . 

In introducing a paper by Fleming on ' Universal or 
Cosmic Time ' the Canadian Institute paid the following 
tribute to the man who had laboured so long and faithfully 
in the interests of the movement : 

1 To his own continued earnest and honourable labours in 
the cause Mr. Fleming has made no reference. This omission 
the Institute is constrained to notice in justice to Mr. Fleming 
and in justice to themselves. They may say what he has left 
unsaid, that his efforts have contributed in no small degree 
to the adoption of an initial Meridian common to all nations, 


and that he has unquestionably been the initiator and prin- 
cipal agent in the movement for reform in Time-Reckoning 
and in the establishment of the Universal day. The In- 
stitute cannot, perhaps, better express the debt of gratitude 
which the civilized world owes to Mr. Sandford Fleming in 
this connexion than by quoting from the accompanying paper 
from the pen of the distinguished Astronomer Royal of 
Russia, M. Otto Struve : " It is through Mr. Fleming's 
indefatigable personal labours and writings that influential 
individuals and Scientific Societies and Institutes in America 
and Europe have been won over to the cause." ' 



In the autumn of 1881 Fleming sailed for Europe, with his 
daughter Minnie and a friend, with the particular object of 
attending the International Geographical Congress at Venice, 
at which he was to represent the Canadian Institute and the 
American Metrological Society and to present a paper on 
' The Adoption of a Prime Meridian '. 

They left Halifax on August 19th, taking the Intercolonial 
to Rimouski, where they caught the Sardinian. The voyage 
was uneventful. They sighted the Irish coast on the 28th, 
wrapped in brilliant sunshine, and landed at Liverpool the 
next day in a downpour of rain. Rain followed them all the 
way to London, and they learned to their dismay that it had 
been raining steadily for three weeks. However, the weather 
cleared after a day or two, and they were able to spend 
a pleasant week shopping and sightseeing. 

One afternoon Fleming had been out for a stroll and was 
returning leisurely to his hotel. ' On the way back along 
Piccadilly,' he says in his manuscript journal, ' gazing into 
a shop window, I was startled by a slap on the back. Turn- 
ing round, there was Sir John Macdonald, who was in town, 
and staying, I learned, at our hotel. We walked back to- 
gether, and went out shopping with the girls/ A party was 
arranged the following day with Lady Macdonald to take the 
famous coaching trip to Virginia Water. The sun shines 
brightly ; the good coach ' Old Times ' and the quaint inns 
give an atmosphere of other days ; and the beautiful country 
along the Thames is at its best. 

September 7th, they are off for the Continent, by way of 
Queenboro' and Flushing. A brief stop in Rotterdam gives 
them an opportunity to correct some of their popular im- 
pressions of Holland. ' We expected to see portly Dutch- 



men in picturesque costumes leisurely smoking long Dutch 
pipes, but we were disappointed. They looked very much 
like Englishmen outwardly, and seemed to be quick, shrewd, 
and very much alive.' The old town, however, with its 
quaint gabled houses, high and narrow and brightly painted, 
and the countless canals crowded with sturdily built Dutch 
craft, left an impression worth remembering. 

Their way lies through Arnheim, up the valley of the Rhine, 
whose turbid waters suggest not quite complimentary com- 
parisons with the clear and sparkling Restigouche, over the 
boundary and on to Cologne, where they have an amusing 
encounter with the German Customs. Their trunks have fol- 
lowed them, and must presently be examined at the railway 
station. Solemn officials have to be interviewed, and many 
formidable looking documents signed. ' At last the trunks 
were dragged from their place of concealment. They were 
double corded and sealed with leaden seals. Six officers in 
uniform are assembled ; they are magnificently dressed and 
form a circle around the three small trunks. The keys are 
produced, the Custom House seals are broken, the Imperial 
cords removed. The lids are opened in the presence of the 
stern officials. One of them gives the word of command, and 
a subordinate raises the corner of one garment in each trunk 
and lays it down again. The ceremony is over, and the Im- 
perial servants march off with unabated dignity.' 

They leave Cologne, having duly visited and admired the 
wonderful cathedral, and continue their way up the Rhine. 
The flat, rich farming country is left behind, and the railway 
runs between the river and steep, vine-clad slopes. On the 
other side are the Drachenfels, their rocky peaks crowned 
with ruined castles. They cross the Moselle and have a clear 
view of the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, and the ancient town 
of Coblentz. The Rhine is now justifying its reputation, and 
is a very different river from that which they had followed 
lower down. ' We have rivers in Canada,' now admits the 
journal, 'such as the Metapedia, the Restigouche, and the 
Saguenay, with banks as lofty and rocky and varied, but 
they are in a condition of nature, without cultivation, with- 


out ruined castles and cathedrals which carry one back almost 
to the dawn of history.' They have a glimpse of Bingen, 
and finally leave the Rhine and follow the Maine to Frankfort, 
where they spend the night. 

An early walk about the old town the following morning 
revealed many things to interest the travellers, and particu- 
larly to remind them that this was the home of Goethe. 
Incidentally, in the window of an old book store in the market- 
place, they found something to remind them of Canada — 
a photograph of the Marquess of Lome (now Duke of Argyll) 
at that time Governor-General of the Dominion. Leaving 
Frankfort, the route was through a fine farming country, 
which reminded them of Quebec, the fields in small patches, 
with long crooked furrows. The curious absence of fences, 
however, gave an unfamiliar touch to the scene. Wurzburg 
is passed, and they run down through Bavaria, with its vine- 
yards and hop-gardens, the porches of the village stations 
festooned from pillar to pillar with the Canadian creeper. 
1 Why ', exclaims the builder of Canadian railways, ' cannot 
our people at home show the same taste, at so little expense 
and trouble ! ' A few hours' run through an exceedingly 
attractive country, hill and dale richly timbered, brings them 
to the Danube, and finally to Munich, where they again 
spend the night and the following Sunday, which gives them 
an opportunity to roam through some of the famous picture 

Soon after leaving Munich they approach the mountains, 
and as the train carries them into a narrow valley Fleming is 
reminded of the entrance to the Jasper Valley and his trip 
through the Rocky Mountains in 1872. Bold, rocky sen- 
tinels guard the passage here, just as Roche a Myette does 
in the Far West ; but here cultivated fields and picturesque 
villages take the place of the untouched wilderness of the 
Rockies. The traveller is lost in amazement as he passes 
village after village strung like beads along the railway, in 
a valley so narrow that the towering mountains rise on either 
side not more than a mile or two apart. ' What do the in- 
habitants do ? How do they live ? Does this narrow strip 



of land really support them ? If so, what may we not look 
for from the broad acres of Canada ? ' 

Innsbruck reminds them that they are in the Tyrol, and 
two large snow ploughs standing beside the railway shops 
suggest that Canada is not the only country with winter 
problems. The engineer is interested in the substantial 
character of this mountain railway, the heavy grades resem- 
bling portions of the mountain section of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway. Again they rest for the night ; this time at 
Botsen, still in the Tyrol. One of the bedrooms in the inn 
turns out to have been at some remote period the chapel of 
some high ecclesiastic. The walls are covered with mural 
paintings, and in one is set a marble tablet surmounted by 
the papal crown and an inscription. 

Leaving this quaint little mountain town, the way lies 
down an exceedingly beautiful valley, lofty mountains 
rising tier above tier, and about them the varying tints of 
woodland, vineyard, and maize field. ' The lifting clouds, 
the scattered mists, the picturesque villages, the fertile flats, 
and vine-clad slopes, offer a wonderful panorama, one long 
to be remembered.' 

As they near the Italian boundary and the Plain of Lom- 
bardy, the character of the country and its inhabitants 
changes. Towns and villages multiply. The houses look 
old and battered, and there is a noticeable lack of the tidiness 
and cleanness of the north. The vineyards are luxuriant, 
the vines trained over high trelliswork, instead of in rows 
three or four feet high, as in Germany. An hour or so later, 
when they have crossed into Italy, the vineyards change 
again, the vines hanging in graceful festoons from tree to 
tree, the latter evidently planted in rows for the purpose. 
The trees seem dwarfed and stunted, the greedy vines 
absorbing all the nourishment from the soil. 

A wait of four or five hours between trains at Verona gives 
the travellers an opportunity of seeing the splendid amphi- 
theatre and other relics of old Roman days. This is Dickens's 
' Pleasant Verona, with its beautiful old palaces, and charm- 
ing country in the distance, seen from terrace walks and 


stately balustraded galleries ; its Roman gates, still spanning 
the fair street, and casting on the sunlight of to-day the 
shade of fifteen hundred years ago ; its marble-fitted 
churches, lofty towers, rich architecture, and quaint old 
quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and Capu- 
lets once resounded ; its fast-rushing river, picturesque old 
bridge, great castle, waving cypresses, and prospect so 
delightful and so cheerful \ The narrow streets remind the 
travellers of those of the Lower Town in Quebec, but the 
inhabitants are not prepossessing, ' nothing but idle or 
half-idle people lounging about \ 

At last they approach their destination. It is late, and 
in the darkness they discover that the train is running along 
a narrow embankment with a wide expanse of water on each 
side ; then — Venice ! They had telegraphed for rooms at 
the Grand Hotel de 1' Europe (all hotels are ' Grand ' in 
Venice), and the commissionaire is waiting for them at the 
station. ' We are passed over to two gondoliers dressed in 
white and blue, who lead us through the crowd to a dazzling 
sight outside the building on the Grand Canal. Hundreds 
of gondolas are waiting to be engaged, their lights dancing in 
the water about them. We take our seats and glide away 
with many others, first along the Grand Canal and under 
the bridge of the Rialto. Then we thread our way alongside 
canals to shorten the distance, and again spring out into the 
Grand Canal, and so to our hotel, and a long night's sleep/ 

The following day the International Geographical Con- 
gress is opened in the Doge's Palace by the King and Queen, 
with brilliant ceremonies. ' Each day ', we read in the 
journal, ' Venice is thronged and excited by some new 
display. One evening the Piazza di San Marco is illuminated 
by one hundred thousand small lamps ; the bands play, and 
60,000 or 70,000 people surge to and fro, cheering the young 
King and Queen who appear at the window. Another day 
there is a grand regatta of gondolas, with richly decorated 
barges, the King and Queen taking part. One evening the 
Grand Canal is illuminated, and such a fairy scene would be 
impossible anywhere else.' Much of Fleming's time is of 


course taken up with the meetings of the Congress, particu- 
larly those relating to the adoption of a Prime Meridian 
common to all nations. His own paper is well received, 
and in fact becomes the foundation of international action 
in this important matter, as described in another chapter. 
In spite of his preoccupation with the Congress and its 
doings, however, he and his companions manage to see at 
least some of the memorable things in the wonderful old 
town on the Adriatic, and as they wander about they feel, 
as so many have felt before them, the saddening influence 
of departed glories, memories that cling to her deserted 
piers and palaces, memories of a thousand years of trium- 
phant grandeur, of commercial dominion, and the lordship 
of the seas. 

After a week or so in Venice, they leave for Rome by way 
of Florence, where they spend a day among the art treasures 
of the palace of the Ufnzi and the Pitti Palace. Gazing at 
the marvellous works in marble of the old masters, Fleming 
is reminded of Goldwin Smith's comment on his own inau- 
gural address as Chancellor of Queen's College the previous 
year, in which he had made a strong plea for good transla- 
tions of the classics. ' Goldwin Smith ', he says, ' compared 
translations to plaster casts and Greek and Latin to the 
original marbles. Looking as I now do upon the original 
marbles, I confess I cannot altogether accept the force of his 
comparison. These marble figures are still beautiful, but 
they are stained and discoloured, fractured and repaired. 
Some have been so carelessly patched that the glory of the 
original is almost lost. Surely the eye would be better 
satisfied with a pure, stainless cast ; not such casts as one 
buys in the streets, but reproductions by a master who 
would bring out every line and feature of the original, and 
restore it to its original beauty free from the hideous stains 
and fractures which the vicissitudes of time have unfortu- 
nately produced, and which it seems no mortal hand can 

Sunday finds them in Rome, and after trying the Presby- 
terian Church outside the Porta del Popolo and the English 


Church in the same quarter, and finding them both closed, 
they abandoned themselves to sight-seeing. They manage 
to see something of the Colosseum, and the Pantheon, ' with 
the sixteen huge granite columns of its portico, which the 
battering of twenty centuries has failed to destroy'. The 
following day is devoted to St. Peter's and the Vatican. 
Among the wonderful frescoes in the Vatican, the journal 
mentions one of recent date commemorating the dogma of 
the Immaculate Conception, and a smaller one in the same 
room in memory of those who though opposing the dogma 
yielded to the voice of the majority. ' We fancied we 
discovered one face in the latter picture intended for the 
late Archbishop Connolly of Halifax,' an old and much 
esteemed friend of Sandford Fleming. The Sistine Chapel 
is also visited, but Michael Angelo's frescoes are ' dull and 
dingy,' and Sandford Fleming frankly admits that he prefers 
some of the more modern work. 

' We have still to visit the great library of the Vatican, 
and we enter and proceed along one gallery, the walls lined 
with book-cases. We are about to see the central portion 
when we have to give way to no less a personage than the 
Pope himself. The poor man, as is well known, is theoreti- 
cally a prisoner in the Vatican, and only goes out to the 
Vatican gardens to take exercise. He was now about to do 
so, and, having to pass through the library from his private 
rooms, we were requested to leave, it being customary to 
have the way clear of strangers.' 

Leaving the Vatican, and with a parting look at the 
glorious proportions of St. Peter's, they drive out to the 
Catacombs, and the Appian Way. The construction of the 
latter merely as an engineering problem is found of peculiar 
interest. The remainder of the day is given to the Forum 
and the wonderfully interesting ruins on and about the 
Palatine Hill. 

Four days in all are spent in Rome, time to get but passing 
glimpses of a few of the innumerable monuments of the past, 
but filled with vivid impressions of the Ancient City — how 
ancient they are reminded as they take the train for Naples, 


for ' on a conspicuous place in the walls of the new railway 
station is a sculptured representation of the old legend of 
Romulus and Remus, a she-wolf nursing two little boys \ 

A friend in Venice had recommended them to ' Mrs. Mac- 
pherson's ' as the most comfortable hotel in Naples. To 
Scottish ears the name was recommendation enough, and 
when they finally reach their destination, late at night, the 
man of the party, having no Italian, stands boldly on the 
railway platform and calls the name of his countrywoman. 
It brings an immediate response, and they drive through 
narrow streets to the Hotel Britannique. 

Both hotel and landlady live up to their reputation. 
Everything is thoroughly comfortable. From their room 
the travellers have a delightful view over the Bay of Naples, 
with Vesuvius in the distance and its waving plumes of 
silvery cloud. Mrs. Macpherson turns out to be a Scotch- 
woman who early in life had married an Italian. Her hus- 
band is dead, and she has resumed her maiden name, perhaps 
with a shrewd idea of its business value in catering to English- 
speaking travellers. Her two comely daughters offer the 
curious combination of Scotch features with Italian speech. 

After luncheon the day following his arrival in Naples, 
Fleming takes the local train to a station near Pompeii, 
and drives over to the City of the Dead. After a glance 
through the museum, he finds more to interest him in the 
streets and buildings. ' The streets are generally straight 
and narrow, from fifteen to twenty-five feet in width. They 
are invariably well paved with large blocks of hard lava. 
They are bordered by paved side-paths and at the crossings 
large flat stepping-stones are placed, the openings between 
wide enough to admit the passage of wheeled carriages. 
The deep ruts worn in the hard lava give one an idea of the 
once busy life of this city of long ago. From thirty to forty 
streets are opened up. Each one with its buildings is an 
intensely interesting study. Here one sees a court-house, 
there a jail, a custom-house with weights and measures, 
a bakehouse with several sets of granite mill-stones for 
grinding the grain. The upper stone is hopper-shaped and 


has holes for inserting horizontal bars to turn it. Some of 
the private dwellings had a central court surrounded by 
marble pillars with a fountain in the centre. The ends of the 
leaden pipes for conveying the water were still visible. The 
walls of some of the rooms were covered with frescoes and 
had rich mosaic floors. Evidently they were the homes of 
men of distinction in Pompeii.' 

The next day is given to seeing as much as possible of 
Naples. A heavy rainstorm forces them to the dubious 
expedient of a covered cab, * the worst of its kind, a hundred 
times worse than a London four-wheeler, with an odour of the 
most peculiar offensiveness.' They stand this as long as 
possible, seeing what they may of the ' splendid and squalid 
Queen of the Mediterranean ', as some one has called it. 
Then they return to their hotel, and Sandford Fleming 
wanders out alone, armed with waterproof and umbrella, to 
get some last impressions of the town ; but the rain comes 
down in torrents and he is finally driven back to shelter. 

After dinner they drive down to the dock and take the 
steamer for Leghorn. The decks are crowded with deck 
passengers, huddled together wherever a little shelter might 
be found from the driving rain. It is blowing a gale outside, 
and the boat remains in port until the morning. The clouds 
lift, the sun comes out, the water of the Mediterranean turns 
from a murky grey to a wonderful blue, and as they steam 
up the coast they get a magnificent view of Vesuvius in all 
his majesty. 

Landing at Leghorn, they take the train for Pisa, getting 
a glimpse of the leaning tower, and on to Genoa. ' This is 
one of the most beautiful and interesting railway rides in the 
world. Our course is along the edge of the Gulf of Genoa, 
the Riviera di Levante. At one point the line runs along 
the rocky beach, at another through a mountain spur. We 
traverse innumerable tunnels, emerging from the darkness 
into lovely valleys covered with groves of fig-trees and lemon- 
trees, and vineyards occupying every available foot of the 
hill-sides. The views of coast and mountain are exquisitely 
beautiful. Every opening has its little bay with picturesque 


fishing-boats, its villages with quaint spires and venerable 
buildings, and gardens fenced with hedges of aloes/ 

Sunday is spent in Genoa, and after attending the Scotch 
Church they enjoy a chat with the pastor, who turns out to be 
from Fifeshire. The beauties of the Riviera have rather 
spoiled them for a thorough appreciation of the famous 
churches and palaces of Genoa. They cannot, however, 
escape the striking contrast between this proud city and her 
ancient rival on the other side of the peninsula. Venice 
lives only in the past. Genoa boasts of an almost equally 
glorious past, but the spirit of her people still lives in her 
crowded harbour and busy streets. 

Leaving Genoa, they spend part of a day in Turin, and 
then on to Paris. ' Turin is laid out very much like an 
American western town, in parallelograms. The buildings 
are modern in style and construction for the most part. 
I have no doubt there is an old town, as in Edinburgh, but 
we did not see it.' Leaving Turin they cross the western 
end of the great Lombardy plain, traverse a richly cultivated 
valley, and are in sight of the Alps. Several small tunnels 
lead at last to the Mont Cenis, with every detail of which 
the engineer is deeply interested. ' A wonderful piece of 
work ! ' he exclaims. 

Emerging from the tunnel after half an hour in the heart 
of the mountain, they are carried down through the wildest 
of mountain scenery, where every foot of soil is carefully 
cultivated by the frugal villagers for themselves and their 
goats, down to Aix les Bains and its exquisite surroundings, 
and on to Macon, where they spend the night. In the morn- 
ing they leave for Paris, where they meet old friends and rest 
for a day or two. A few busy days in London, and once 
more they are crossing the Atlantic. They return to Halifax 
by the Intercolonial after an absence of a little more than 
two months. 



When the boy Sandf ord Fleming passed through Kingston 
in 1845, on his way to Peterboro', it could never have entered 
his imagination that thirty-five years later he would return 
to the picturesque little town on Lake Ontario as Chancellor 
of Queen's University. 

In 1845 Queen's was in its infancy, having been granted 
a royal charter four years before. Work was commenced 
the following year, 1842, in a frame building on the north 
side of Colborne Street. The year Fleming first saw Kings- 
ton, the college was housed in a series of stone buildings, 
formerly dwelling-houses, on William Street. Between 1845 
and 1880 the college suffered many vicissitudes, and it was 
not until the Rev. George M. Grant became Principal, in 1877, 
that Queen's began to take its proper place among the leading 
educational institutions of the country. It is an interesting 
fact that as long ago as 1839, when the fortunes of Queen's 
were at a very low ebb, a meeting was held in Kingston 
looking to the establishment of means for a liberal education 
of the youth of the province. At that meeting a resolution 
was adopted appointing a committee to collect subscriptions, 
and the mover of the resolution was a young man just enter- 
ing into public life, whose name was John A. Macdonald. 

Two candidates were proposed for the office of Chancellor 
of Queen's University in 1880, Samuel Hume Blake and 
Sandford Fleming. The latter proved to be the popular 
candidate. Goldwin Smith's name had also been mentioned 
for the Chancellorship, but it was found that he would be 
indisposed to accept, and therefore was not nominated 
Fleming had for some time been interested in Queen's, but 
his interest had been quickened from the time that his 
friend Grant assumed the direction of the institution. 


Principal Grant, with characteristic energy, had not allowed 
the grass to grow under his feet. The year after his appoint- 
ment he organized an endowment campaign for the univer- 
sity, in which he had the warm support of Fleming. In the 
life of the late Principal, by his son, one finds the following 
note : ' Rev. D. M. Gordon wrote from Ottawa that the 
subscriptions for the chair of Physics would be headed by 
two gifts of five thousand dollars each. One of the givers 
was Mr. Allan Gilmour. The name of the other benefactor 
was kept secret for a time. He was Mr. Sandford Fleming, 
and it was largely through his influence that Mr. Gilmour 
had made this considerable gift/ 

That Principal Grant fully reciprocated Fleming's high 
opinion of his friend was made evident in many ways. At 
the installation of the Chancellor in 1880, Grant made no 
secret of his satisfaction. ' While he would,' he said, ' have 
willingly accepted either candidate as Chancellor, he was 
extremely glad the decision had fallen on an old friend. He 
and Mr. Fleming had travelled together by sea and land, 
and he had learned to appreciate the rare qualities of his 
character. He did not know of a better example to set 
before the youth in the institution, and hoped there would 
be many students trained up to resemble him. There was 
no man living whom he would rather have at his back in 
an undertaking requiring patience, strength, and determina- 
tion than the new Chancellor. It was not necessary to speak 
of his works. He had not only constructed a great railway, 
but had written the story in a manner which redeemed the 
dry details and made the most indifferent finish the work 
after he had commenced it. The history of the Intercolonial 
Railway was a prominent contribution to Canadian litera- 
ture. Fleming's characteristics were loyalty, calm resolve, 
devotion to truth, and boundless tolerance of opinion. The 
new Chancellor was a man who could listen to every one, no 
matter what his opinions might be. He believed that a man 
might differ from him and yet be a thoroughly honest and 
able man. This was the kind of man for the head of a truly 
national university.' 


In his first address as Chancellor, Fleming took occasion 
to sketch the history of Queen's University, and as the 
growth of this institution offers many points of interest it 
will be worth while to reproduce that portion of his inau- 

' Queen's ', he said, ' cannot lay claim to the hoary anti- 
quity of the universities of the Old World ; compared with 
them it is but of yesterday. It has a brief record that may 
be soon told. Less than half a century ago British North 
America was almost destitute of seminaries of learning, and 
wholly without the means of superior education. The first 
action which we have to record, which eventually culminated 
in the establishment of the University of Queen's, was in 
1 83 1. In that year the Synod in connexion with the Church 
of Scotland experienced the difficulty of obtaining ministers 
from the mother country ; and, convinced of the importance 
of raising up from among its own congregations young men 
properly educated, memorialized the Government on the 
subject. The Synod represented the deep interest the 
Presbyterian body took in the advancement of learning in 
Canada, and their most anxious desire to see a college estab- 
lished under such a charter as would render it generally 
available, and would secure to it the confidence and sup- 
port of all denominations of Christians and all classes of the 
people. Year by year the most strenuous efforts were made 
to secure the great object aimed at, in connexion with what 
was then known as the King's College endowment. Although 
in different parts of the province meetings were held, com- 
mittees and delegations appointed, and reports prepared, 
all efforts proved fruitless. In 1839 tne Synod, adhering to 
the principle laid down by the mother Church from the 
earliest days — of maintaining a high standard of education 
for the ministry — determined that there should be no further 
delay in making arrangements for the establishment of a 
college. Kingston, being centrally situated, was chosen, 
and influential men, both lay and clerical, set vigorously to 
work to raise funds and to take other necessary means for 
founding a collegiate establishment for the education of 


youth, and for the proper training of native ministers. 
Among other steps taken, a document was prepared by 
a committee of the Synod and widely circulated. The 
words of this document, dated 9th October, 1839, show not 
only what were the immediate wants and ultimate aims of 
the founders of the college, but considering the limited 
resources and population of Canada in those days, they 
display the courageous spirit as well as the enlightened and 
patriotic sentiments with which those noble men were 

* In another document, to which wide circulation was 
given, it was explained that although the establishment of 
the theological branch was then considered the most urgent, 
it was the desire and purpose of the founders to provide for 
and embrace a complete course of literary and scientific 
education. It was further explained that the Committee 
was pledged to raise $25,000 within six months as an endow- 
ment for one professor, and it was estimated that a total 
subscription of from $120,000 to $160,000 would be neces- 
sary. The active promoters of the scheme looked for some 
assistance from the Public Treasury; and they expected 
that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would 
endow a theological chair ; but they relied mainly on private 
contributions for the means of establishing and maintaining 
the proposed seminary of learning. 

! The design of the founders was sufficiently comprehen- 
sive, but they were wise enough to know their poverty, and 
prudent enough not to undertake more than was practicable. 
It was enough for them to originate an institution that, 
while making provision for present and actual needs, would 
admit of indefinite enlargement and keep pace with the 
growth of the country. Their design was to erect at first 
a humble superstructure sufficient for their most pressing 
wants, but to lay the substructure broad and deep, leaving 
to another generation the work of extending and completing 
the edifice. By this prudent course they hoped to avoid 
the indiscretion of outrunning the limited means at their 
command. They saw that the establishment and complete 


equipment of such a collegiate institution as the future 
might demand was then beyond the wants, and still more 
beyond the means, of a young and struggling community, 
and that without abandoning the idea they would act wisely 
in postponing the attempt to reach its complete fulfilment. 

' Legislative authority was sought, and early in 1840 the 
Governor-General gave his assent to a Bill entitled " An Act 
to establish a College by the name and style of ' The Uni- 
versity at Kingston 'V The year following, Her Majesty was 
graciously pleased to grant a royal charter by which the 
name of " Queen's " was authorized to be used, and the style, 
rights, and privileges of a university were conferred. 

' The college was opened for the first time on the 7th of 
March, 1842, for half a session. For this purpose a small 
private house was hired, and two professors were engaged. 
Of the students who presented themselves for matriculation 
only three passed the examination. The small number of 
young men prepared to matriculate revealed the fact that 
education in Canada was then at an extremely low ebb, 
and it became necessary to open a junior class for those who 
failed to matriculate. 

' This was not an auspicious commencement, but the 
promoters of the college had cause to rejoice that the long- 
cherished scheme which they had struggled to commence was 
assuming form, and that the actual beginning had been made. 
They were in no way discouraged by the prospect which pre- 
sented itself. They remembered, doubtless, that although 
some of the ancient seats of learning in the Old World were 
founded by popes and sovereigns and were richly endowed 
by Church and State, a few of the most famous universities 
had a very humble origin, and were indebted for their subse- 
quent progress to the liberality of private individuals. They 
would know that Edinburgh University began with only one 
professor, and that Cambridge — now with a cluster of eighteen 
or twenty colleges and halls — was established in the twelfth 
century and found shelter, it is said, in a farm outbuilding, 
under the auspices of an abbot and three monks. The early 
friends of Queen's had faith in the future, and they were 


encouraged to hope that the Canadian college which they had 
founded might some day — possibly far distant — resemble 
those famous seats of learning as much in the splendour of 
its career as in the lowness of its origin. 

1 The early years of the college were somewhat chequered. 
For some time it was sustained by direct and almost annual 
appeals for support to the Kirk congregations throughout 
Canada. In 1854 the Summerhill property was purchased 
for college buildings, involving further appeals to liquidate 
the debt incurred. In 1867 the college was overtaken by 
a series of trials peculiarly severe. Two-thirds of the endow- 
ment fund, invested in the Commercial Bank, were lost in 
the failure of that institution, and about the same time the 
Government grant, which had been received for twenty-two 
years, was withdrawn. It therefore became more necessary 
than ever to fall back on private beneficence. In 1869 an 
appeal was made for $100,000. It met with hearty support in 
all parts of the country, and more than the sum asked for 
was subscribed. Prosperity dawned upon the institution, and 
in the next decade it made substantial progress. About two 
years ago it was considered that the time had arrived to 
extend the usefulness of the university. As the endowment 
fund was considered inadequate to meet the increased ex- 
penditure which would follow, fresh efforts to extend the 
fund became necessary. 

1 It was estimated that a new subscription of at least 
$150,000 would be required. Every friend of Queen's knows 
that Principal Grant undertook the task of personally visiting 
the towns and cities of Canada and as many country dis- 
tricts as possible to explain the objects of the application, 
and to afford to those who might desire it an opportunity of 
assisting by their contributions. This last appeal was 
eminently successful, and although the business of the 
country had been prostrated by financial depression, the 
subscriptions amounted to the sum deemed necessary. 

1 The college has undoubtedly during its brief career had 
many trials, but it has been tenacious of life, and has proved 
itself superior to all adversity. It is now on a firm and 


enduring foundation, and its success in the future may be 
considered assured. Other seats of learning may boast an 
origin far back in mediaeval and monastic times, they may 
receive the fostering help of Church and State, or may have 
inherited princely endowments, but Queen's University may 
justly claim the distinction of resting on the support and 
affection of thousands of friends and benefactors, and they 
all believe it will prove worthy of their friendship.' 

In this same address as Chancellor, Fleming discussed in 
a very interesting way the functions of a modern university. 
We have known him hitherto as engineer, a builder of great 
national works, a leader in Imperial undertakings. It is 
instructive as to the breadth and diversity of his mind to find 
him addressing an audience of college men, on a question that 
lay much more in their field than in his, and revealing a know- 
ledge and grasp of the subject which held their attention 

' There are ', he said, ' many who hold that centralization 
in university education would be the most advantageous 
arrangement ; and, although much may be said on the other 
side, I confess that if it were attainable I would be inclined 
to favour the idea of a National University, with a great 
central college for literature, science, and every branch of 
non-denominational learning, while there might be clustered 
around the secular college, as a common centre, theological 
halls perfectly independent of each other, and under the 
management and control of the religious bodies to which 
they respectively belonged. I am inclined to think that if 
the whole question had to be dealt with de novo, a sym- 
metrical scheme of this kind would commend itself to general 
favour. In such a case it would not be necessary for different 
religious bodies to establish and maintain separate univer- 
sities. They would only have to see to the efficiency of 
their theological halls, and to endow such special professor- 
ships as were deemed necessary by them for training their 
youth for the ministry. 

1 It would be practicable for students of every creed to 
unite in the secular departments and to attend the same 



lectures in the central college. Thus, instead of having as 
many universities as there are different denominations, we 
would have the strength of all combined in one ; which might, 
in consequence of the combination, be rendered as complete 
and efficient as it would be practicable to make it, and the 
whole circle of the sciences and every branch of study of 
a non-sectarian character might there be taught by the ablest 
men of the day. Some such arrangement is what the 
founders of Queen's contended for. Year after year they 
struggled to combine the leading religious bodies in one 
National University. Even six years after Queen's was 
organized a final but unsuccessful effort was made to unite 
with " King's ", now Toronto University, on a broad, com- 
prehensive basis. It is therefore no fault of the early friends 
of this institution that the college system of the province is as 
we now find it. 

' At this stage in the progress of Canada, however, we are 
called upon to accept not what we would wish but what we 
have. It would be unwise and inexpedient to uproot the 
institutions which have grown out of the past condition of 
things, or to contend for a theory which is obviously im- 
practicable. Instead of struggling for what is beyond our 
reach, it is infinitely better to accept what we possess, to 
make the most of what has been secured, and to look hope- 
fully forward to that which is attainable. 

1 The time has gone by for seriously discussing whether 
there should be one university or several in Canada. It 
would be a step backward to unsettle the public mind with 
regard to their permanency. Nothing can be more per- 
nicious in horticultural pursuits than constantly disturbing 
plants at the period of their growth in order to examine their 
roots. So it is with seats of learning. They are of slow 
growth, and they take deep root amongst the institutions of 
the country, and in the feelings and sentiments of the com- 
munity. How would a proposal be received to break up 
Oxford and Cambridge, with their forty-two colleges and 
halls, and to substitute universities in every county in 
England ? Such a scheme may have substantial reasons to 


support it, and, if everything had to be founded afresh, 
would meet with many advocates ; but Oxford and Cambridge 
are the growth of some eight centuries. They have played 
no unimportant part in the history of England, and are 
almost as firmly established to-day as the august sovereign 
on the throne. 

1 Turning to another portion of the British Isles, what 
would be thought of a proposal to centralize collegiate 
education in Scotland, and to abolish the old universities of 
St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow — institu- 
tions which, with one exception, were established by Papal 
authority and have flourished from a period anterior to 
the Reformation, and within whose halls intellects have been 
trained that have left their impress on the Empire ? 

1 In this Dominion, as in the mother country, we must 
hold on to that which is good, and do our best to build up 
and give stability to those institutions which are calculated 
to advance the happiness and prosperity of mankind. May 
we cherish the idea that Queen's University is one of those 
institutions, and that it has an important mission to perform 
on this broad continent during centuries which are to come. 

1 This idea is pregnant with questions, and we are led to 
ask ourselves : " What is the proper work of Queen's, and 
how should it be performed ? What should our country 
expect of this university, and what does our time especially 
need ? " In attempting to answer these questions, I feel 
that we are called upon to consider not simply what course 
of education has been pursued in other generations or in other 
countries in order that we may follow it, but we are called 
upon to ascertain what is the best for Canada at this particu- 
lar stage in her history. 

1 At various times within the past hundred years university 
education has been the subject of warm controversy, one 
party contending that a certain course of study is absolutely 
necessary, and another school urging that the importance of 
some other branch of learning is paramount. By one it is 
claimed that instruction should aim at exercising and train- 
ing the mental faculties ; by another, at imparting positive 



and useful knowledge. It is held on one side that the ancient 
classics are indispensable as a means of culture, and of the 
highest value and importance as sources of information, 
that their study best develops the intellectual faculties, and 
has a strong humanizing tendency. On the other hand it is 
contended that the language and literature of ancient Greece 
and Rome should, to a large extent, be superseded by the 
physical sciences, and by other studies which, from a 
utilitarian point of view, may be deemed more practical. 
As in other controversial questions which are discussed with 
great force, it may be that both sides are correct, and yet 
neither absolutely true under all circumstances. There may 
be a half-way point where men may settle their differences ; 
or, possibly, a purely classical education may be the best for 
one college or century or country, but not the most desirable 
under all conditions. 

1 Be that as it may, the question of university education 
has been exhaustively discussed by some of the ablest scholars 
and educationalists, and if they have been unable to agree as 
to the course which would best meet the necessities of the age, 
it might be deemed presumption were a layman like myself 
to venture a positive opinion one way or the other. My own 
crude views, which must be taken for what they are worth, 
are presented suggestively and diffidently, rough-hewn from 
the mental quarry. 

' It will be conceded that the great object of education is 
the development of the human faculties, by the operation 
of such influences as will subdue our evil natures, will 
strengthen our best natures, and will cultivate and enrich 
the mind, so as to form the best possible individual characters. 
Its grand aim is to ennoble the propensities and tastes, to 
strengthen the moral sense, and to fit man to discharge 
his duties as an intelligent being, in the best manner of 
which he is capable in the land in which he lives, and in 
the age in which God has given him life. If this definition 
be accepted, it is clear that the system of education to be 
followed at this institution should be that which best meets 
the conditions laid down — that the University of Queen's, 


in order properly to perform its functions, and fulfil the 
hopes and expectations of its friends, must provide an oppor- 
tunity for the Canadian youth to acquire a sound intel- 
lectual culture, and to enrich his mind with stores of thought, 
in order that he may be prepared well to perform his part in 
elevating the condition of his race, and in raising the character 
of his country in the scale of nations/ 

The Chancellor sketched the history of education, and the 
circumstances which gave to the classics a pre-eminent place 
in the course of instruction. He suggested that, under the 
peculiarly complicated conditions of modern life, it was 
a question if the benefits to be derived from a classical 
education were worth the serious expenditure of youthful 
years, years that could never be recalled. 

' The child born to-day ', he pointed out, * in order to be 
abreast of the age in which he lives, has very much more to 
learn than the man who lived one, two, or five centuries ago. 
While the empire of learning has been prodigiously extended, 
human life has not been prolonged, intellectual capacity 
has not been enlarged, and the limited time which any in- 
dividual can devote to college work has not been increased. 

' It appears to me self-evident that educational training 
cannot be the same under all circumstances, and that what 
may be best at one period may require modifications as cir- 
cumstances change and time rolls on. Although the thoughts 
of wise men among the ancients have been handed down to 
enrich the mind of the modern student, it must be borne in 
mind that great books have been written in more recent 
times, that human thought and life are spreading out in ever 
widening circles, and that modern literature, science, and 
philosophy present claims to a conspicuous place in any 
course of study ; and it must be conceded that to become 
familiar with the highest efforts of the human intellect, 
modern as well as ancient, is surely a main purpose of 
a liberal education in the age in which we live. 

' The learned gentlemen who are called upon to determine 
the course of study to be pursued at Canadian Universities 
will recognize that this age and this country have strong 


utilitarian tendencies, that the people of Canada want no 
superficial training, no half education at the higher seminaries 
of learning — that they desire to have the education of their 
youth as complete as possible. They expect university 
teaching to be made thorough, but they demand that the 
means placed at the disposal of the governors of the univer- 
sities shall be applied to the best possible advantage, that 
high education shall be disseminated over the widest possible 
area, and that the time of those attending college shall in no 
way be wasted. 

* It will be borne in mind that this country is widely 
different in some respects from the mother country — that we 
have no class who live on inherited wealth as in England, 
where many young men attend college simply as a condition 
of their social standing, to spend pleasantly the educational 
years of their early manhood ; that in Canada there is but 
little accumulated wealth, that all are struggling to better 
their condition and to promote the general progress. Here 
all are children of activity, obliged to toil with head or hand, 
and the young men who attend college enter on a few years 
of earnest academic life for the purpose of receiving mental 
discipline and the best possible preparation for the work that 
lies before them, either in the learned professions, in country 
life, or in the various industrial pursuits which may be open 
for them. 

* With all the facts, all the experience, and all the argu- 
ments on both sides, the question for consideration appears 
to reduce itself to this : What would the same time, and care, 
and educational energy now spent on classics effect if devoted 
to the systematic study of modern literature, the sciences, 
and the literature of every race which may be had in our 
ordinary tongue, in the language which we speak and write 
and think ? My own reflections, however diffidently they 
may be expressed, clearly point to a curriculum in which 
Greek and Latin will not predominate, in which these studies 
will not be imperative, and in which they will be largely 
curtailed of their exclusiveness, in order to place all important 
studies on an equal footing. 


' My idea would be to restore to universities their original 
character, and to carry out the old scheme of a university in 
its widest sense. It would not be necessary to sacrifice any 
study now enforced, but it would be expedient to place them 
in their proper position, to extend all desirable studies, and 
to arrange the curriculum so as to cramp and dwarf no man's 
powers by forcing them into grooves which they cannot 
possibly fit. On the contrary, the fullest opportunity should 
be afforded for expanding the individual intellectual faculties 
in the direction in which nature intended they should grow. 
Individuality is one of the great wants of our time, and if not 
the sole, it should certainly be a chief, end of true education. 
Do we not, therefore, want a system which would bring out 
distinctions of character, and the best mental and moral 
peculiarities of our youth — a system which will give them, in 
addition to general culture, such solid attainments as will 
have the very strongest tendency to make them moral, use- 
ful, and refined ? ' 

After an eloquent plea for the establishment of several 
new chairs at the university, the Chancellor turned to the 
students. ' I cannot ', he said, ' too strongly impress upon 
you — students of Queen's University — that you should value 
highly the privileges to which you are here admitted. The 
importance of a sound college education is very great. True, 
there are many instances of men prospering in life without 
the benefits which flow from it, but these men are very 
heavily handicapped in the race. Occasional success proves 
nothing. Besides, it cannot be doubted that if men with 
capacity and industry have made their way in the world 
against every obstacle, without a college education, they 
would have accomplished more, and with much greater ease, 
had they been blessed with all the advantages which you 
will here enjoy. The education of men who have distin- 
guished themselves in any way without university training 
has been laboriously and in most cases imperfectly obtained 
through private study ; and as exercise invariably strengthens 
the faculties whether physical or mental, the very obstacles 
which they have overcome have been of service to them in 


obtaining any degree of cultivation that they may have 
reached. But if you ask such men, they will tell you that their 
path to success would have been infinitely easier, and that 
they would in all probability have occupied a much larger 
sphere of usefulness to mankind, if circumstances had 
favoured them as they are now favouring you. 

* Let me advise you not to throw away or neglect your 
grand opportunities. Do not trifle with your precious 
college days. You may not all win prizes or attract attention 
at examinations. The race is not always to the swift. Do 
not be discouraged if your morning star does not shine 
brightly. The shining may come later on in the day. Bring 
to bear on your work earnestness of purpose, self-reliance, 
perseverance, sobriety of speech and of behaviour, and you 
will be certain to vanquish every difficulty. Be determined 
to spend your college days to some purpose, and you will 
surely carry with you into the world treasures which no thief 
can steal, and a fortune which no adversity can take from 
you. You will be the indisputable owner of stores of 
thought and of happiness for all the days of your life. You 
will be the possessor of a trained and cultivated intellect, 
ready to do honour to the highest or the humblest calling, 
and able to leave your race and the world better than you 
found them/ 

Fleming is still Chancellor of Queen's University, having 
been elected again and again to the high office. In his various 
addresses at convocation he has touched upon a wide variety 
of subjects, and has managed to put into them all the same 
spirit of broad-mindedness, tolerance, and kindly sympathy. 
His keen interest in the university, and all that it stands 
for, has never slackened. In a characteristically unos- 
tentatious way he has helped the institution financially on 
many occasions, and has always been ready and willing to 
give his time and thought to any movement looking to its 

In April 1908 Queen's recognized his services to the 
University and the nation by conferring upon him the degree 
of LL.D. He had already received the same distinction 

Sandford Fleming, Chancellor op Queen's 


from St. Andrew's University in 1884, and from Columbia 
University in 1887. While upon the subject of honours, it 
may be convenient to mention here the fact that, in recog- 
nition of his public services, he was created a Knight Com- 
mander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1897. 
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal 
Geographical Society, the Geological Society, the Royal 
Historical Society, and the Victoria Institute, and a member 
of many historical, scientific, and engineering societies. 

As Chancellor, Fleming has always been careful, while 
helping the university in any way within his power, to avoid 
interfering with the functions of the Principal. The framing 
of policy he left to the Principal, but in many ways, both 
inside and outside the university, he found it possible to be 
of very real service. His position and influence were of 
service outside, and his personal dignity and kindliness made 
him invaluable in smoothing over little difficulties among the 
members of the staff. He probably had a good deal to do 
with the choice of Dr. Gordon to succeed Principal Grant ; 
and in this connexion a characteristic story is told by a mem- 
ber of the faculty. ' When Principal Grant died, and Sir 
Sandford and I were discussing the question of his successor, 
I suggested the name of one of the staff. " No," said the old 
man in his soft voice, " when I was an engineer at the head 
of surveying parties, I always found that it did not pay to 
make one of the gang head of the gang ! " ' 

Fleming enjoyed the ceremonial part of his duties as 
Chancellor, and was in his element on such occasions as the 
reception in 1901 to the Duke and Duchess of York (now the 
King and Queen), and the conferring of an LL.D. upon Earl 
Grey in 1905. His simple kindliness and natural dignity 
lent a very real charm to such ceremonies. 

The convocation of 1905, with the presence of Earl Grey, 
suggested to the Chancellor an incident of his childhood, 
which may very well close this chapter. ' The passing of the 
Reform Bill in August 1832 ', he said, ' was followed by public 
rejoicings throughout the country. The glens and parks of 
my native land had enthusiastic gatherings, in which all 


classes and all ages participated. My oldest recollection is 
of one of these gatherings with feasting and much rejoicing, 
bands playing and flags flying. Thousands of children were 
present, some of them, like myself, very young. A small 
flag was placed in my hands as we marched in procession, 
and again and again our shrill voices raised three cheers for 
Earl Grey, the great Prime Minister who had secured the 
passage of the measure, and the grandfather of His Excellency 
the Governor-General. These joyous acclamations of more 
than threescore and ten years ago made an impression so 
strong that they seem even now to re-echo through my 
memory. This was the first public function in which I had 
the privilege of joining.' 



The critical state of the Pacific Cable negotiations in 1893 
induced Fleming to make a voyage to Australia, to assist 
the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Hon. Mackenzie 
Bowell, in furthering the project in the antipodes. His 
daughter Minnie accompanied him. 

They left Ottawa early in September for Vancouver, 
Fleming studying with never-failing interest the extra- 
ordinary changes that were taking place in the west. ' I 
thought I recognized an old camping-ground at Rat Creek 
(now Burnside) of our journey in 1872, when we met a party 
of Sioux. This was then the most westerly settlement. Now 
for miles on miles the steam thresher is gathering in the 
grain and leaving mountains of straw out to the far horizon.' 
A few days later they board the Warrimoo at Vancouver and 
are off on the long voyage to Australia. 

For the first few days they experience cloudy and wet 
weather, but before long run into sunshine and warmth. 
Cape Flattery, the last of the American continent, had been 
left behind, and they will see no land again until they touch 
at Honolulu. ' The air is balmy, the breeze fans our faces 
gratefully, for we perceptibly feel that we are going south at 
the rate of over 300 miles a day. There is nothing to look at 
beyond the bulwarks of the ship but the white fleecy clouds 
which fleck the sky and the intensely blue water on every side, 
broken only by the foam of the vessel as she plows her way 
onward. Even the gulls seem to have tired following us. 
So we are a little world within ourselves, and we begin to find 
among the strangers who started with us from Vancouver 
more than one pleasant companion/ 

A day or two later one reads in the journal, * We are enter- 


ing decidedly new seas, as flying-fish are discovered darting 
through the air a few feet above the water. The heat is 
perceptibly greater, but not uncomfortable/ 

Two weeks from the day they left Ottawa, the ship enters 
the harbour of Honolulu. Native boys amuse them, while 
they wait to land, by diving for silver. They call on Major 
Woodhouse, the British Resident, and on the deposed Queen. 
' We found her fully as dark as any of the natives, her 
manners very graceful, natural, and dignified. She talked 
with each of us for a few minutes. I ventured to say that 
I had already had the satisfaction of seeing Her Majesty in 
Westminster Abbey in June 1887, which evidently gave her 
pleasure.' Time is also found for a drive out to the Punch 
Bowl, from which they have a splendid view of the interior 
of the island with its luxuriant tropical vegetation ; and for 
a visit with the British Resident to the flagship Philadelphia 
of the United States squadron. They are off again a little 
after sunset, ' the receding island and the sparkling lights of 
Honolulu slowly vanishing in the full moon \ 

No land again for ten days ; and nothing to be seen but 
flying-fish with an occasional shark or porpoise. About noon 
on September 29th they cross the equator. ' Standing erect 
one has no shadow whatever. The sun is vertical over our 
heads. Strange to say, we did not feel the heat to-day 
nearly as much as on many previous days/ Two days later 
they cross the anti-prime meridian, and according to custom 
drop a day out of the reckoning. It is Sunday, October 1st, 
and the next day will be Tuesday, October 3rd. 

The Fiji Islands are passed, but at too great a distance to 
be visible, and ten days after leaving Honolulu they are 
abreast of Walpole Island, near the eastern end of New 
Caledonia, treeless and uninhabited. A remark in the journal 
brings home to one the vast loneliness of the Pacific, even in 
this age of rapidly increasing ocean traffic. They had been 
on the Pacific for three weeks, and in all that time have seen 
only one vessel of any description, a full-rigged bark some- 
where north of the Hawaiian Islands. 

Exactly a month from the time they left Ottawa they are 


sailing into Sydney Harbour. ' A glorious day, the water 
like a silver mirror, albatross floating above the surface of 
the sea, porpoises leaping like salmon ; then a bold headland, 
and we are steaming up the magnificent harbour, one of the 
finest in the world, seven miles of it, with varied and pic- 
turesque shores, and before us the great new city of the 
southern seas/ 

The following day is spent in making official calls on the 
Governor, the Premier and other members of his Cabinet, and 
in a drive around Centennial Park, ' as well laid out and 
apparently larger than Regent's Park in London ', also the 
Botanical Gardens, with their unfamiliar but peculiarly 
beautiful trees and shrubs, and the Art Gallery, where there 
are a number of fine European pictures and several excellent 
Australian landscapes. 

Several days are spent at Sydney, discussing the Pacific 
Cable with Sir George Dibbs, the Premier, the Hon. H. M. 
Barton, Attorney-General, and other members of the New 
South Wales Government. The former entertains them at 
his beautiful home, ' Emu Plains,' and the latter takes them 
for a drive through miles of orange groves, ripe fruit and 
flowers on the same tree, and the air laden with perfume. 
A cable to Ottawa, at about $6.50 a word, furnishes a prac- 
tical illustration of the advantages of a State-owned system. 

Monday morning they leave for Queensland, reach New- 
castle at noon, an important mining town, cross the boundary 
the following morning, and change to the narrow-gauge 
railway of Queensland. ' We enter the Darling Downs, a 
magnificent pastoral prairie-like country of immense extent, 
the soil deep and black, like that of Manitoba. Great herds 
of cattle and sheep are seen on every side.' Another day 
brings more sheep, occasional orange groves, a wild high 
country, called the Liverpool range, where they run through 
half a dozen tunnels, then miles of fine timber, where kangaroo 
are occasionally seen, and Brisbane in the evening, where they 
are met by the Premier, Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, and learn 
incidentally that it has been 101 in the shade during the day. 

A day is spent sailing about Moreton Bay as the guest of 


the Premier, with the Governor, Sir Henry Norman, and 
a large party of representative men of the colony. The 
Premier publicly announces his support of the Pacific Cable 
project, and authorizes the press to publish a special memor- 
andum Fleming has prepared. Dinner at Government 
House, where they meet Sir Samuel Griffith, who had repre- 
sented Queensland at the Colonial Conference in 1887. As 
they are leaving the following morning for a trip to one of 
the famous gold-mining stations, ' the morning papers are 
full of the Pacific Cable, the general tone of the comments 
most encouraging \ A special train takes them to Bunda- 
berg, through palms and immense fields of sugar-cane, 
' growing with great luxuriance in a rich volcanic soil \ 
A day or two later they return to Sydney, and leave for 

At the station in Melbourne the traveller is greeted with 
a cheerful cry, ' How are you, Sandford ? ', and recognizes his 
old friend Peter Martin, whom he had last seen fifty-four years 
before in Kirkcaldy. They had kept up a correspondence 
for a few years, but Fleming had to admit that he had been 
a little tardy in replying to Martin's last letter, received 
thirty-nine years before. ' Peter and I went arm and arm 
along the streets of Melbourne, and had much to say to each 
other of all that had taken place in the long years that had 
passed. It is curious to contrast our quick passage from 
Vancouver with his voyage of 1839, when he took five months 
to sail from the British Isles to Australia/ Conferences 
follow with the members of the Victoria Government about 
cable matters ; they dine with the Governor, the Earl of 
Hopetoun (afterward first Governor-General of the Common- 
wealth) ; and the following day Fleming addresses the 
Chamber of Commerce on the Pacific Cable. 

From Melbourne a visit is paid to Adelaide, the capital of 
South Australia, where they are the guests of the Lieutenant- 
Governor. Conferences with the ministry follow, and they 
return to Melbourne in time for the Australian Derby — 
100,000 people and tremendous enthusiasm — and back again 
to Adelaide, where, after a month in Australia, they sail for 


England on the Britannia by way of Ceylon and the Red 

Under date of November 17, the journal contains the 
following entry : ' Aroused from bed at 4.30 a.m. to see the 
Southern Cross. I have looked for it in vain since we left 
Honolulu. It has happened in the early part of the night 
to be under the horizon. To-day I have seen the constella- 
tion in a clear sky, but fifteen minutes later would have been 
too late, as the sky became overcast. However, I have 
seen it before leaving the southern hemisphere, and I must 
confess it is disappointing/ Three days later they once 
more cross the equator, ' quite warm, but a pleasant breeze ' ; 
and two more days brings them within the breakwater at 
Colombo. A day is spent on shore driving about in jinrick- 
shas, visiting Buddhist temples, and shopping in the bazaar. 
When they return to the ship Fleming is pleased to find that 
among the new passengers is Henniker Heat on, whom he had 
met in London. 

The voyage across the North Indian Ocean is all that could 
be desired. ' The ship glides forward through smooth 
tropical seas, a pleasant balmy breeze from the north-west, 
and with our light clothing we feel perfectly comfortable. 
Games of various kinds on deck under the shady canvas ; 
and a dance in the evening which all seem to enjoy.' 

On the morning of St. Andrew's day they enter the 
harbour of Aden, with its bold rocky headlands jutting out 
to sea. The deck is soon crowded with Arab traders selling 
odds and ends, and, as at Honolulu, the water is crowded with 
native boys diving for small coins, ' and keeping dexterously 
out of the way of sharks '. A diversion is furnished on the 
way up the Red Sea by a down steamer crossing the bows 
of the Britannia during the night and narrowly escaping 
a collision. In the morning they get a glimpse of the coast 
of Nubia and Abyssinia in the far distance, but for the most 
part they are out of sight of land. 

The ship is held up for several hours at the first station 
in the Suez Canal. The Khedive is making a trip through 
to Suez, and must have the right of way. ' Barren sand on 


either side running up to high hills on the horizon.' They 
land at Ismailia, bid farewell to the ship, and take the train 
to Cairo. 

After a day in sight-seeing, visiting the principal mosques 
and the bazaars, they take a river steamer up to Memphis 
and Sakkara. ' We land at a village, and are met by a 
swarm of Arabs with their little donkeys, who struggle for 
possession of each member of the party. So we drive to 
Memphis, and among its ruins try to reconstruct the magnifi- 
cent city of long ago. On the way to Sakkara we pass on 
one side a collection of primitive mud huts, and on the other 
the colossal statue of Rameses II lying prone. A few miles 
bring us to the pyramid of Sakkara, and the burial-place of 
the sacred bulls, an underground gallery with twenty-four 
great granite sarcophagi. With the everlasting cry of 
" Backsheesh ! " ringing in our ears we ride wearily back 
to our boat on the river, and return to Cairo.' 

The next day is given to the Great Pyramid. They enjoy 
the drive from Gizeh through the acacias, and are interested 
in the labourers in the fields digging with heavy hoes, and 
rude wooden ploughs pulled by oxen, and the solemn camels 
that pass them on the road with their heavy loads of mer- 
chandise. Also they stand respectfully before the Sphinx, 
but ask her no questions. 

The afternoon train takes them to Alexandria, ' through 
a wonderfully fertile land much like that of the Red River 
country \ The sun sets behind the pyramids, and a little 
after dark they have reached their destination. The follow- 
ing morning they take one of the steamers of the French 
Line to Marseilles. Among the passengers is the son of an 
old Edinburgh acquaintance of half a century ago. The sea 
is rough, and after crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans, 
they have their worst experience in the Mediterranean Sea. 
The next day or two are uneventful, with glimpses of Etna 
and Vesuvius, the north shore of Corsica, the romantic isle 
of Monte Cristo, and Elba, with its memories of Napoleon. 
They pass the north cape of Corsica, and leave the island 
behind, looking back in silent admiration at its snow- 


covered peaks gleaming gloriously in the sunshine, with the 
blue sea all about. 

From Marseilles they travel to Bordeaux, and after resting 
for a few days at a neighbouring watering-place, leave for 
Paris and London, where several busy weeks are spent in 
furthering the interests of the Pacific Cable. The last day 
of the year finds London ' black with fog and smoke, and 
wretchedly cold ', but they go to hear Archdeacon Farrar. 
Sir Charles Tupper arranges a meeting with the Colonial 
Minister, Lord Ripon, and Sydney Buxton, the Under- 
Secretary, and Cable matters are discussed to some little 
purpose. Another entry in the Journal mentions a board 
meeting of the Hudson Bay Company, of which ancient fur- 
trading corporation Fleming was a director for more than a 
quarter of a century. A note is prepared for Lord Ripon on 
Necker Island and the importance of securing it as a landing- 
place for the Pacific Cable. 

January 7, reads the Journal : ' My birthday. I am 
sixty-seven years of age to-day, well on to the allotted span 
of threescore and ten. Lunch with Lady Mount Stephen, 
and walk through St. James's Park, where we see children 

A week later they sail from Liverpool on the Etruria for 
New York, having a very rough passage with almost con- 
tinuous gales. They return to Ottawa January 22, after an 
absence of some four and a half months. 




In an address to the Canadian Club of Toronto, in Febru- 
ary 1904, under the above title, Fleming not only reviewed 
the progress of transportation in Canada, with which he had 
himself been so intimately connected, but also, in the light 
of what had already been accomplished by the young 
Dominion in the latter half of the nineteenth century, con- 
fidently laid down an even broader policy for the bigger and 
stronger Canada of the twentieth century. 

He told his hearers that nearly half a century before, in 
the town of Port Hope, he had discussed the same broad 
subject of transportation. It is worth while to be reminded 
occasionally what gigantic strides have been taken in the 
development of lines of communication within that period. 

' Let me, in the first place,' he said, ' remind you that in 
1858 there was not throughout the whole extent of North or 
South America a single transcontinental railway ; that there 
was scarcely a mile of railway in the United States west of 
the Mississippi, and a very small mileage west of Chicago ; 
that the greater and by far the most valuable portion of what 
is now known as the Dominion of Canada was held as a vast 
hunting-ground by the Hudson Bay Company, and it was 
indeed fortunate that it was so held, as the present and 
future generations of Canadians will testify. At that date 
the eight or ten provinces and territories west of the longitude 
of Lake Superior were not thought of. British Columbia 
itself was not even a Crown Colony. The city of Ottawa as 
the capital of the Dominion was unknown. Winnipeg did 
not then exist. Ten years later, there were only a few people 
around Fort Garry and along the banks of the river, chiefly 
Scotch and French half-breeds, known as the Red River 
settlers. Exclusive of pure Indians, there were probably 


not more than eight thousand people in the whole North- 
West. The settlers were shut off from the outer world, 
except by such means of communication as that furnished 
by dog-trains in winter and canoes in summer, together with 
Red River carts. It is a remarkable fact that in 1868 the 
inhabitants' of that country which now exports yearly tens 
of millions of bushels of wheat were nearing starvation for 
want of it, owing to the devastation of a plague of grass- 
hoppers. The Red River settlers gratefully received some 
thousands of bushels of grain purchased by the generous 
minded in the Eastern Canadian cities and transported in 
carts across the plains from the nearest railway station, some 
five hundred or six hundred miles south of what is now the 
metropolis of Manitoba. 

1 Long before this date the British North American pro- 
vinces were not without pioneer builders. There were the 
far-seeing men who projected and subsequently built the 
Welland Canal, the Rideau Canal, the St. Lawrence Canals, 
and designed the Trent Valley Canal. We must likewise 
bear in remembrance those who projected the Shubenacadie, 
the Baie Verte and the two Georgian Bay Canals, one of the 
latter projected to terminate at Toronto, the other to use 
the River Ottawa. If all these projects have not become 
accomplished facts, we must nevertheless extend to those 
who promoted them the credit which is due to their patriotic 
intentions. In 1858 there were striking illustrations of 
progress within the Empire ; in that year the first Atlantic 
cable was laid, and the Great Eastern was launched. 

4 In 1858, too, the railway era had commenced in Canada. 
We had in operation the line from Toronto to Collingwood, 
the Grand Trunk in part and the Great Western in part. 
There were several smaller railways extending northerly 
from Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence into a region rich 
in pine. In that day there were a few public-spirited, 
sanguine men who had the hardihood to peer through the 
pine forests and the wooded wilderness of a thousand miles 
to Canada's richest heritage, the prairie region. Again their 
mental vision carried them across the rolling prairies another 



thousand miles to gaze on the mountains with the setting 
sun and the ocean beyond them. 

' These daring — shall I say visionary ? — spirits did not 
think Canada was destined to stop short at the Georgian Bay 
and the tier of counties lying eastward of Lake Simcoe. 
There were dense forests to subdue. The Ottonabee, the 
Trent, the Ottawa and other rivers had abundance of water- 
power to prepare for exportation the timber then growing 
in the tributary forests. It required no seer to see that these 
forests would become exhausted, and that new fields and 
other sources of industry would have to be sought out. Pre- 
cisely as we have to-day, there were men then who inscribed 
on their banners the words " Build up Canada ", and vision- 
ary and impracticable as it seemed to many, they formed the 
resolution to carry their standard across the home of the 
buffalo and the distant Rocky Mountains. 

' Here we have the inception of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway. To a large number of people it undoubtedly was 
regarded as an idle fancy, the dream of chimerical men never 
to be realized. The enormously large works involved were 
not common at that stage in the history of engineering 
undertakings. The proposal to build a railway through 
uninhabited British North America, over one of the great 
mountain ranges of the globe, across a roadless continent, 
respecting much of which nothing was known, when looked 
at soberly by the practical man presented to him a project 
which passed at a single leap from the plane of ordinary 
undertakings to the lofty sphere of enterprises of the grand- 
est description. It surpassed in every element of magnitude 
and cost, and probably also in physical difficulties, any work 
ever previously undertaken by man. 

' But what were the purposes to be achieved ? Were they 
not inestimably important ? Wonderful commercial results 
could be counted on, and it was felt that the national, the 
imperial, advantages and possibilities were far beyond the 
conception of the most sanguine of far-seeing men. The 
undertaking would have an immediate effect in expanding 
Canada, then limited to two provinces in the valley of the 


St. Lawrence ; it would be of the greatest advantage to the 
mother country in opening up new channels for the enter- 
prise of British merchants. The railway from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific when completed would bring nearer to England 
her Eastern Empire ; it would unite with a new bond the 
interests and the affections of the Queen's subjects in Europe, 
Asia, Australasia, and America ; it would secure in perpetuity 
British dominion upon this continent ; it would promote 
the occupation and civilization of half a continent, and go 
a long way to lay the foundation of what might be regarded 
as a Canadian Empire. 

* In erecting an ordinary house, or in carrying out any 
undertaking, every intelligent man sets before him a general 
plan. In building up a state precisely the same course 
should be followed ; and above all things the prudent, far- 
seeing state-builder will endeavour to secure the elements of 
strength in the foundations and in the framework of the 
national structure. In this respect let us see where we 
stand. We have certainly commenced on no insignificant 
scale. We have taken possession of the great inheritance 
which the mother country has generously passed over to our 
ownership — a vast inheritance fronting on three oceans. 
We have assumed all the responsibilities of ownership and 
occupation. We have made a beginning towards its deve- 
lopment ; among other things we have established a con- 
tinuous line of railway from the most eastern to the most 
western province. This is a beginning, but it is far from 
being adequate. We all know that no edifice will remain 
erect on a single wall, that no tower will stand with but one 
corner-stone. It is patent to every person that any structure 
whatever, in order to stand the stress of time, must be given 
a broad and sure foundation. 

* Taking our railway system as an index of our develop- 
ment, let us spread before us a railway map of the Dominion. 
What do we find ? Ontario east of Lake Huron, Quebec 
bordering the St. Lawrence, and in part New Brunswick 
and Nova Scotia are provided with a network of railways. 
Manitoba, at least its southern half, is gridironed with rail- 


ways, and railways are rapidly being extended westward. 
East of Manitoba, however, as far as Lake Huron, indeed 
almost to the River Ottawa, there is comparatively little to 
indicate progress. There is, in truth, absolutely nothing for 
hundreds of miles north of Lake Superior if we pass out of 
sight of the single track of the Canadian Pacific Railway. 
In this one fact we have disclosed a remarkable circumstance 
which in my judgement demands serious and immediate 

' The railway development in and beyond Manitoba is an 
indication of the rapid settlement of that portion of the 
Dominion. Looking forward into the future, it is easy to 
see that the population of the west will be rapidly increased. 
It may indeed be regarded as a certainty that the time is not 
remote when there will be as many inhabitants west of Lake 
Winnipeg as east of Lake Superior. What then will follow, 
if meanwhile no sufficient effort be made to reclaim the vast 
intervening territory ? Obviously our people will be geo- 
graphically divided. Within the limits of the Dominion 
there will be two great groups distinctly separated by a vast 
unpopulated wilderness, constituting a dangerous area of 
cleavage. It is impossible to forecast the outcome of this 
separation of the Canadian people. We are unwilling to 
think that political separation will follow, but we must not 
hide our heads in the sand and remain in a fool's paradise. 
We must look at facts, and we shall see that there is a grave 
danger of a gradual alienation of the separated inhabitants, 
with the possibility of some new political combination. We 
have no means of foretelling what may come in another 
generation, but this we know, that mighty changes often 
come suddenly. The physical link between the two widely 
sundered halves of the population would be exceedingly 
slender, even if the single railway line along the coast of the 
lake be double-tracked or quadrupled. We can imagine how 
easy it would be for a flotilla any day to render the railway 
useless, or a filibustering organization to land any night at 
a preconcerted hour and at a score of places destroy the line 
of communication. Such expeditions need not necessarily 


be connected with the neighbouring Republic. The agents 
of any foreign unfriendly power would have little difficulty in 
secretly arranging a sudden descent at a critical moment. 

' I have indicated in a few words that there is a vital 
problem presented for solution, a problem which cannot 
with safety be neglected. Ordinary foresight points out to 
us a real and a double danger. (1) Under certain circum- 
stances the unity of the Dominion, it may be said, will practi- 
cally hang on a thread. (2) If the unity of the Dominion be 
left insecure, the integrity of the Empire will be imperilled. 
I would ask, by way of illustration, how could the globe- 
girdling British telegraphs be maintained if disjointed at 
Lake Superior ? The nerves of the Empire can follow no 
route across North or South America between the two 
oceans except through united Canada. Again, how could 
British sailors be sent across the continent to man the 
Pacific fleet if the continuity of the communication be 
broken between the two oceans ? These mere random 
illustrations to show the jeopardy of our situation will 
suffice, as in such a matter one is as good as a hundred. 

' Forewarned is forearmed. I have pointed out a great 
and unmistakable weakness. To substitute strength for 
weakness obviously is a matter which concerns our country 
to its inmost depths. A solution of this vital problem will 
be found in the watch- words " Build up Canada ". 

' For twenty degrees of longitude east of Manitoba and 
stretching far north of the latitude of Lake Superior there 
extends a vast territory respecting which comparatively 
little is known. In order to comprehend its extent let us 
look at the map. Draw a line from the north-east angle 
of the Province of Saskatchewan (the old boundary) to the 
River Saguenay where it enters the St. Lawrence after 
passing the farming settlements around Lake St. John. 
West of these settlements the line drawn is somewhere about 
1,100 miles in length. The line is generally parallel to the 
Canadian Pacific Railway between Manitoba and the River 
Ottawa, and some 350 or 400 miles north thereof. Between 
the two lines there is a space equal in area to more than four 


Provinces of Manitoba. This space remains entirely in a 
state of nature. It is almost unmapped, wholly unopened, 
wholly unsettled, wholly unoccupied, practically without 
a white inhabitant. 

* It is not an outlying tract, away from the body of the 
Dominion. The map shows that much of it is in the geo- 
graphical centre of our country and may be regarded as the 
body itself. So far as known, its climate is not widely 
different from that of other parts of Canada which have 
long been settled. From recorded meteorological obser- 
vations Moose Factory on its northern side and on the 
margin of Hudson Bay has a winter and summer tempera- 
ture much the same as Winnipeg, and the average snowfall 
is less than half that of Montreal or Quebec. It cannot be 
compared in general fertility or readiness of access to the 
rich open prairie, yet the worst that can be said of this great 
region is that it is a woodland wilderness. It would scarcely 
be correct to speak of it as an inhospitable waste, for the 
same may be said of all such lands in their natural con- 
dition and until opened up by railways and roads and made 
available for human industry. In a country so extensive 
as this, a tract of virgin wild land more than double the 
superficial area of England, Ireland, and Scotland combined, 
we may look for varied natural assets awaiting develop- 

After a brief reference to the agricultural, mineral and 
other resources of this northern region, he went on to say : 

1 Looking forward but a few years the Dominion may come 
to possess in the hinterland of Ontario a new seaport. As is 
well known, the northern boundary of this province reaches 
Moose Factory on the south coast of Hudson Bay, and it is 
worthy of note that the great seaman who discovered the 
Canadian Mediterranean which has always borne his name 
reached this quarter on Michaelmas Day in the year 1610. 
The following day, having sailed round to the mouth of 
Nottaway River, his small ship was laid up for the winter, 
and there remained from November 1 until the following 
June. Perhaps Moose Factory may not be the best naval 


point on that great inland sea, but whatever point may be 
favoured the new seaport would in some respects resemble 
Archangel. That Russian port is in a parallel of latitude 
thirteen and a half degrees (or more than 900 miles) farther 
north than Moose Factory. Archangel is a seaport of 
importance, with a dockyard and a prosperous shipping 
trade. Its population is not inferior to some of our Canadian 
cities, and before the founding of St. Petersburg it was long 
the only seaport within the limits of Russia. Can any 
person now living foretell what the only seaport of Ontario 
may yet become ? ' (Ontario has since been given a much 
better port at the mouth of the Nelson River.) 

* In an address at the Guildhall, Mr. Chamberlain pointed 
out that one hundred and thirty years ago a great statesman 
of the neighbouring republic, Mr. Alexander Hamilton, 
bequeathed a precious legacy to his countrymen when he said 
to them, " Learn to think Continentally." The late Secre- 
tary of State for the Colonies gave an equally precious 
message to those whom he addressed when he said, " Learn 
to think Imperially." We in Canada will do well to take 
to heart both messages and learn to think at one and the 
same time Continentally and Imperially. What, I ask, 
might too soon follow if we remained inert in thought and 
sluggish in action ? What if we spurn the advice of both 
statesmen and at this stage in our history remain basking in 
fancied security ? The grave matter I have touched upon 
is not a local question. It does not alone concern any one 
city or any one province. It is a large question in which 
the whole Dominion is profoundly interested. The citizens 
of Toronto, of Montreal, of Winnipeg, equally with the 
citizens of Halifax, Quebec, and Vancouver should think of 
it Continentally and Imperially. If they so view it, I am 
satisfied each and all will reach the conclusion that in the 
whole range of the Dominion there is no question which 
demands more wise and more patriotic consideration. 
Between the Atlantic and the Pacific there is nothing more 
urgently needed than the opening up, the settlement and 
the development, of that vast unpeopled wilderness to which 


I have directed your attention. It is with the utmost 
deference I submit, in the interests of the Canadian people, 
that their representatives in Parliament will inadequately 
discharge their responsibilities if they fail to adopt the most 
effective means of building up Canada where breadth and 
strength and consolidation are wanting so conspicuously.' 

He then outlined the railway plans of the Dominion 
Government and the Governments of Ontario and Quebec, 
and strongly urged the establishment at the earliest possible 
moment of a second transcontinental railway across Canada 
' on the shortest line from Quebec to Port Simpson ', which 
would be by way of Norway House at the northern end of 
Lake Winnipeg. In support of this route he offered the 
following reasons : 

1 (i) It will be universally recognized that it is not in the 
public interests to have all the great lines of communication 
of the Dominion between the east and the west passing along 
the immediate shore of Lake Superior. This admitted, 
every argument applies, only in a less degree, against bring- 
ing all the through avenues of traffic so near the frontier 
as Winnipeg. Obviously our plans for the future should be 
formed so as to avoid the concentration of the whole traffic 
of the great North- West at any one point near the frontier. 
The physical features of the country do not render it neces- 
sary, and such a course is manifestly undesirable in the 
interests of Canadian commerce. Does not a large bulk of 
Manitoba grain now find its way through the United States 
to be shipped from United States seaports ? According to 
reliable authority, six, eight, and ten millions of bushels 
a year have been so shipped. Sir Thomas Shaughnessy 
stated to the Canadian Club that last year it reached nearly 
fifteen million bushels, and it may be expected that this 
transfer from Canadian to United States channels will go on 
increasing with the increase in the total yield. 

' (2) Winnipeg is the metropolis of Manitoba, but the 
fertile plains of Manitoba constitute but a fraction, perhaps 
not an eighth, of the vast fertile area of the North- West. 
If we add to Manitoba all the prairie country westward to 


the mountains and as far north as the Province of Saskatche- 
wan, we have an extensive region which may properly be 
regarded as tributary to Winnipeg. There remains to be 
opened up by far the larger half of the productive North- 
West. An inspection of the map will satisfy any one that 
unquestionably the northern half can best be served by the 
construction of a trunk railway on a northern route. 

' (3) A railway built on the northern route would be the 
shortest line between the two oceans, besides being the most 
direct for the products of the northern half of the prairie 
region to the nearest Canadian shipping ports. 

1 (4) By establishing on the northern route a modern 
first-class railway devoid of gradients and every other 
hindrances to cheap transportation we would possess the 
means of carrying the products of the northern half of the 
prairie region to Canadian tidal ports at all seasons of the 
year at less cost than by any other route whatever. The 
advantages of the lake route have been much extolled. 
Transportation by water certainly has advantages under 
certain circumstances, but it also has limitations due to 
climatic and geographical conditions. In all probability 
the country west of Winnipeg, and Winnipeg itself, will con- 
tinue to enjoy during summer all the advantages which the 
lakes can yield, but there is a vast cultivable country farther 
north and west from which it is believed freight may be 
carried to Quebec by railway on the northern route at less 
cost than by the lake route. Of course it will be understood 
that this is conditional upon the line to be constructed being 
free from such gradients as we find on ordinary Canadian 
railways, a condition which can only be definitely deter- 
mined by adequate surveys. Should such a favourable line 
be established as is believed possible, I venture to state that, 
owing to the reduced total mileage, and still more owing to 
the reduced gradients on the new line, grain may be carried 
to Quebec by the direct route at less cost than by the 
southern route, even if carried almost free of charge across 
the lakes from Fort William to Depot Harbour, Owen Sound 
or Sarnia. This of course only applies to the half-year of 


open navigation ; during the other half-year the northern 
route would be without a rival worthy of the name. 

1 (5) A railway constructed on the northern route would 
at all times and seasons be a reliable outlet from the granary 
of the Empire in the heart of Canada to tide-water. More- 
over at Quebec in summer and at the open ports of the 
Maritime Provinces in winter the ships transporting produce 
to Great Britain would when necessary be placed under the 
express protection of the British fleet. 

' (6) Such a railway constructed between Quebec and the 
western prairies on the northern route would be a national 
highway in every sense. Its immediate effect would be to 
broaden the Dominion, to add strength where strength is 
so much needed, to establish many new centres of industry, 
and thus the country would steadily become populated and 
consolidated. What is now a widespread wilderness would 
be converted into one of the most important divisions of the 

' I have submitted to you in an imperfect fashion a sketch 
of some circumstances connected with the development of 
the leading lines of intercommunication in the Dominion. 
All that now belongs to the past ; it may be regarded as 
the pioneer and preliminary work in the evolution of a 
nation. We have now reached the beginning of a new 
chapter in our history when, with unabated interest in all 
that concerns our welfare, new energy and fresh vitality are 
demanded in the work of consolidation. I am not advocat- 
ing any far-away project. I have felt it my duty to point 
out that there is a vast new and neglected field practically 
at our doors. By the progress of events Canada is now 
brought face to face with a great threefold problem : (1) To 
reclaim an unpopulated wilderness of immense extent and 
of unknown value near the heart of the Dominion. (2) To 
establish a second transcontinental railway on the shortest 
practicable route between the tide-water of the Atlantic and 
the tide-water of the Pacific. (3) To construct the eastern 
half of the transcontinental railway as a national highway, 
an Imperial highway, to convey the products of our illimit- 


able wheat-fields to our own seaports for transportation to 
market at lower rates than by any other route. If such can 
be accomplished, as I believe it can, I am satisfied that 
nothing else would so much make for national solidarity. 
Nothing else would so much advance Canada and fit her to 
take her permanent and proper place in the galaxy of British 
States constituting the new Empire. 

1 Those of us who have always had a living interest in the 
welfare of our country will see from what I have submitted 
that there are dangers to be guarded against, to which we 
should not shut our eyes. All will recognize that we should 
be on the alert, that we should take time by the forelock and 
seek to avert such dangers ; that we should continually 
make progress, but that our progress should be made in 
harmony with the dictates of prudence and common-sense. 

' In the words of our Finance Minister, there is abundant 
evidence to prove that " the Canadian Government and 
people are determined in all ways to promote Imperial unity ". 
I submit that we can materially promote the unity of the 
Empire by discharging a duty very near us, a duty vital to 
our own permanency and prosperity. Many of us, perhaps 
all of us, have had from early days faith in the future of 
Canada. For my own part I am more convinced than ever 
that through the powerful and peaceful influence by sea 
and land of the twin sisters of civilization, steam and elec- 
tricity, rightly directed our future is assured. 

1 We are proud to feel that our country is no small factor 
in the great British Empire of the twentieth century. We 
have room and to spare in our wide domain for a large 
augmentation of our industrious, intelligent, and moral 
population, and we throw open our doors to all such as may 
be prepared to face a somewhat rigorous climate and to 
overcome difficulties in subduing the wilderness. To such 
as may join us in developing the resources which nature has 
so lavishly bestowed we gladly offer to share the fruits 
which will follow our joint labours. 

1 Our aim is to make the Dominion compact, strong, and 
prosperous. Our design is to have one Canada from the 


St. Lawrence to the Pacific. Under the free institutions 
which we have inherited from the mother land, with a virile 
population which has sprung from the foremost European 
races, united in this favoured land by common interests and 
common sentiments, we look forward to our destiny without 
fear and with much hope. We desire to make our country 
a great northern nation, in family affinity with an Empire 
whose noblest aspiration is peace and good-will to all the 
nations of the earth. 

* This is the high ideal we set before us in our strenuous 
efforts to build up Canada/ 



In a debate in the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia, in 
the session of 1908, we were reminded that one hundred and 
fifty years ago was held the first meeting of the legislative 
assembly of Nova Scotia, that the assembly has met annually 
from that day to this, and that next to the Mother of Parlia- 
ments it is therefore the most venerable body of its kind in 
the British Empire 

The significance of the fact appealed to Fleming's patriot- 
ism. Here was an opportunity of bringing home to Britons 
the world over the priceless boon they enjoyed of self- 
government. In a letter to the mayor of Halifax, early in 
May 1908, he referred to the fact that ' the first house of 
representatives of the people, who were elected under in- 
structions from His Majesty the King, assembled in Halifax 
on October 2, 1758, arrangements having been made by 
Governor Lawrence, representing the King, the previous 
May — this very month 150 years ago \ ' The fact alluded to ', 
he continued, ' is of great significance, and has an intimate 
relationship to the development of the Empire. To-day 
representative government, essentially an outgrowth of the 
love of justice and liberty inherited from the races forming 
the British people, reached its present stage through cen- 
turies of conflict dating back to the conquest of 1066. The 
spirit of representative government is inherited from England, 
and it is worthy of note that the first legislative assembly in 
the Dominion — the first in the present Empire outside of 
England — was assembled under instructions from the British 
King in Nova Scotia in 1758. After the lapse of a century 
and a half, when representative government is becoming 
co-extensive with civilization, is it not fitting that Nova 
Scotians should in some marked manner denote an historical 


fact in which they are so much interested and directly 
associated ? ' 

A month later he took the matter up with the Lieutenant- 
Governor of the province. ' The event ', he says, ' appears to 
have been the beginning of a new order of things in colonial 
administration. At this date we must recognize what it 
signified, that it was actually the first step in the enfranchise- 
ment of the people in the oversea possessions of England, 
and that it may indeed be regarded in its essential principle 
as the foundation stone upon which has been steadily develop- 
ing and is to-day being firmly built up in both hemispheres, 
the British Empire of the centuries to come. 

1 Nova Scotians may rightly claim the 150th anniversary 
of such an event as an occasion of which they may well be 
proud, and all must agree that it should be celebrated in 
some becoming manner.' He then went on to suggest what 
seemed to him an appropriate memorial of the occasion — 
the erection by popular subscription of a tower that would 
stand to all future generations as a tangible reminder of 
their inestimable heritage. 

In addressing a public meeting in Halifax the same month, 
he said : 

' The monumental edifice contemplated should in some 
distinct manner indicate the purpose of its erection. It 
should commend itself by the extreme simplicity, massive- 
ness, and grandeur of its general outline ; at the same time 
every course of masonry should have its distinct meaning. 
The whole structure might most fittingly, I think, take the 
general form of an Italian tower. The foundation course 
would testify to the beginning of representative government 
in the outer empire.' He went on to suggest an architectural 
treatment of the upper portions of the tower that would 
appropriately illustrate the development of representative 
government, and commemorate the great names associated 
with its history. 

To show his own interest in the project, he offered the 
finest site on his property on the North- West Arm for such 
a tower, or any other suitable monument that might be 


decided upon, and at the same time promised to convey to 
the city of Halifax seventy or eighty acres of land surround- 
ing the site, to be set apart as a public park. 

Further consideration of the proposed memorial led to the 
conclusion that its significance would be enhanced by making 
it a national rather than a provincial monument. The 
matter was therefore placed in the hands of the Canadian 
Club of Halifax, through whom contributions were invited 
from public bodies and individuals throughout the Dominion. 
The responses were so widespread and so generous that the 
cost of erecting the tower was amply provided for, and on 
the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the day upon 
which the first provincial assembly was opened in Halifax 
the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia laid the foundation- 
stone of the building. 

Before the work was proceeded with, however, it was 
brought to the attention of the Canadian Club that not only 
Canada but other parts of the Empire would be interested 
in the Memorial Tower, and it was decided to again broaden 
the scope of the undertaking so that it might take the form 
not merely of a provincial, or a Canadian, but of an Imperial 
monument. Fleming had already been in communication 
with some of the leading public men of Australia, New 
Zealand, South Africa, and other parts of the Empire, all of 
whom expressed the deepest interest in the project, and in 
January 1910 a circular letter was addressed by the Canadian 
Club of Halifax to ' The Governments and People of New 
Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Canada ', setting forth 
the history and objects of the movement. 

* It will be apparent ', says the circular, 'that there is 
nothing narrow or provincial in the earnest desire to obtain 
the sympathy and co-operation of the sister states of the 
Empire in the project of a Memorial Tower at Halifax. It 
will be obvious that we are simply taking advantage of an 
exceptional opportunity, an opportunity which should not 
be neglected, of enlisting our fellow-subjects beyond the seas 
in a common sentiment and a common purpose. If nothing 
else resulted, the mere effort to bring them thus together, 




with the corresponding awakening of interest and sympathy, 
must have an important and highly beneficial effect on our 
mutual citizenship. The character of the building itself, its 
architectural design, or the amount of money to be expended 
upon it, are matters of comparatively minor importance. 
The vital consideration is the spirit that lies behind the pro- 
ject. This building will commemorate one of the most signi- 
ficant events in history, it will tend towards a sympathetic 
union of the far-flung members of the British Empire, and 
thus enhance a thousandfold the value of the memorial. In 
the Halifax Tower will centre memories, hopes, and ambitions 
that will gain significance and importance as the years roll on. 
It will take its place not as a merely local or provincial 
monument, or one whose appeal reaches only to the utmost 
boundaries of the Canadian Dominion, but as an embodi- 
ment of the spirit which animates the people of the Empire 
in both hemispheres, an attestation of the partnership of the 
sisterhood of nations all under one Crown/ 

Accompanying the letter is the following list of the twenty- 
four autonomous communities within the circle of the British 
Empire, with the year and place of the first Assembly in each 

case : 

i. Nova Scotia . 

2. Prince Edward Island 

3. New Brunswick . 

4. Newfoundland . 

5. Cape Colony . 

6. New Zealand 
New South Wales . 
Victoria .... 
South Australia . 
Quebec .... 
Dominion of Canada 
Ontario .... 
British Columbia 



16. Queensland 

1758 at 
1773 at 
1786 at 
1833 at 

1853 at 

1854 at 

1855 at 

1855 at 

1856 at 
1856 at 
1867 at 
1867 at 
1867 at 

1871 at 

1872 at 
1879 at 



St. John. 

St. John's. 

Cape Town. 













17. Western Australia ... in 1890 at Perth. 

18. Natal in 1893 at Pietermaritzburg. 

19. Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 at Melbourne. 

20. Alberta ... . . in 1906 at Edmonton. 

21. Saskatchewan .... in 1906 at Regina. 

22. Orange River .... in 1907 at Bloemfontein. 

23. Transvaal in 1907 at Pretoria. 

24. United South Africa . . in 1910 at Cape Town. 

The responses to this appeal were as gratifying as in the 
former case, and the Memorial Tower was rapidly brought to 
completion. On August 14, 1912, it was formally dedicated 
on behalf of the people of the British Empire by His Royal 
Highness the Duke of Connaught, Governor-General of 
Canada. It stands as a perpetual monument to the liberties 
of the British race, and as a beacon to lead them onward. 
' We may rest assured ', says Fleming, ' that the British 
Empire, built up on the principles of freedom, justice, equal 
rights, and the self-government of all its autonomous parts, 
is not destined to pass away like the empires of history. The 
new empire is inspired by a spirit unknown to the empires 
founded on absolutism. It is a union of free and enlightened 
communities, dedicated to the cause of commerce, of civiliza- 
tion, and of peace ; and who can doubt that such a great 
political organization is destined to endure ? Every im- 
provement in transportation, in postal arrangements, and in 
telegraphy by land and sea, is calculated to facilitate inter- 
communications and to foster friendships among kindred 
people, and thus to perpetuate their attachment to the cradle 
of the British race, to the source of that unequalled constitu- 
tion which is their highest inheritance.' 




In the study at ' Winterholme ' is a desk piled high with 
books and papers, and beside the desk stands a little table 
kept scrupulously clear of everything but writing materials. 
Walls of books rise from floor to ceiling on every side, and 
their titles tell the tale of the life-work of the man whose 
personality dominates the place — Reports on the Inter- 
colonial and the Canadian Pacific Railway, volumes of pam- 
phlets on the Pacific Cable and the Standard Time Move- 
ment, publications of the Canadian Institute, and material 
on many subjects touching the welfare of Canada and the 
Empire. With these are also many works of standard 
literature, history, biography, travels, science, for the owner 
of this library is a man of catholic taste, a student and a wide 
reader as well as a man who has done things. 

Before the little table he sits, writing to or answering 
letters from correspondents in every quarter of the globe, 
glancing through a magazine article or a pamphlet on some 
question of national or imperial policy, or perhaps making 
notes for a contribution of his own to one or other of the 
various subjects which he has made peculiarly his own, and 
in which his interest is as keen and shrewd as it was twenty- 
five or fifty years ago. 

His manners are those of the old school, nor will he accept 
the privilege of his years to dispense with any of the courtesies 
which he considers are due to his guest, be he an intimate 
friend or the most casual of visitors. He may be in the 
middle of a letter or article when you are announced, but he 
rises immediately and welcomes you with a warm clasp of 
the hand and a kindly smile. His tall figure is still erect, 
in spite of the burden of more than eighty-seven years, his 
face is full of character — one sees in it humour, kindliness, and 


strength — and his finely-chiselled head with its crown of 
silver hair, and its suggestion of moral and intellectual power, 
makes a picture that one is not likely to forget. It matters 
little what subject you have come to see him about, you are 
sure of a friendly and patient hearing, and you can count, too, 
on the benefit of a judgement that is broad and fearless, 
though never hastily formed, that has seldom been at fault, 
and that has ripened in the light of long experience. When 
you take leave of him the same perfect courtesy impels him 
to escort you to the threshold of his home, and you carry 
away with you the memory of a personality in which are 
most rarely blended the elements of physical, mental, and 
moral worth. 

In this sketch of his life he has been described as an Empire 
Builder, and the narrative of his career must be singularly 
at fault if it has not more than justified the title. Few men 
in the Old Land or the Dominions beyond the Seas have by 
their works more abundantly earned the name. It is close 
on seventy years since Sandford Fleming first landed in 
Canada, with no other assets than his own brave heart and 
indomitable will. He came with a young man's ambition 
to make a place for himself in the New World. Looking 
back across these seventy years one finds that he did this 
and something more, something very considerably more. 
His life has been one of action, of essentially constructive 
effort. The bent of his mind is both too practical and too 
optimistic to waste time on the destruction of other men's 
failures. These can always safely be left to fall of their own 
weakness. Whether he is building a railway, or advocating 
some measure of imperial importance, his plans have been 
invariably carefully thought out, thorough and eminently 
workable ; and they have been designed always to make for 
the welfare of mankind. 

His patriotism is none the less real because it is not narrow. 
He has worked untiringly for the betterment of his own 
people, for the strengthening of the ties binding together the 
scattered members of the British Empire ; but behind all his 
efforts was the firm conviction that a united empire was 


a step in the direction of world-peace, that every advance in 
sympathy and understanding among the peoples owning 
allegiance to the British flag foreshadowed a similar advance 
toward their neighbours in other lands. 

His philosophy cannot be better described than in these 
words of his own, uttered on another occasion, but equally 
appropriate as a summing-up of his life's work : 

' I have often thought how grateful I am for my birth into 
this marvellous world, and how anxious I have always been 
to justify it. I have dreamed my little dreams, I have 
planned my little plans, and begrudged no effort to bring 
about what I regarded as desirable results. I have always 
felt that the humblest among us has it in his power to do 
something for his country by doing his duty, and that there 
is no better inheritance to leave his children than the know- 
ledge that he has done so to the utmost of his ability. 

1 It has been my great good fortune to have had my lot 
cast in this goodly land, and to have been associated with its 
educational and material prosperity. Nobody can deprive 
me of the satisfaction I feel in having had the opportunity 
and the will to strive for the advancement of Canada and the 
good of the Empire. I am profoundly thankful for length of 
days, for active, happy years, for friendships formed, and 
especially for the memory of those dear souls who have 
enriched my own life while they remained on this side.' 

Sandford Fleming died at Halifax, on Thursday morning, 
July 22, 1915. 


Railway Inventions : A New Mode of Propulsion. Toronto. 1847. 
Route for the Grand Trunk Railway via Peterboro. Toronto. 1 85 1 . 
Valley of the Nottawasaga. Canadian Journal. Toronto. 1852. pp.4. 
The Editor's Shanty. Maclear's Magazine. Toronto. September, 

1853. pp. 6. 
Railway Termini and Pleasure Grounds. Canadian Journal. To- 
ronto. 1853. pp. 3. 
Toronto Harbour : its Formation and Preservation. Canadian 

Journal. Toronto. 1853. pp. 10. 
Preservation and Improvement of Toronto Harbour. Canadian 

Journal. Toronto. 1854. pp. 15. 
New Compound or Continuous Rail. Canadian Journal. Toronto. 

1855. pp. 8. 
The Geological Survey and Sir William Logan. Canadian Journal. 

Toronto. 1856. pp. 7. 
Preliminary Report on the projected North- West Railway of Canada. 

Toronto. 1857. pp. 86. 
Valley of the Saugeen and North-West Railway. Toronto. 1857. 

pp. 87. 
Lecture on a Railway to the Pacific through British Territory. Port 

Hope. 1858. pp. 10. 
The Davenport Gravel Ridge. Canadian Journal. Toronto. 1861. 

Practical Observations on the Construction of a Continuous Line of 

Railway from Canada to the Pacific Ocean on British Territory. 

In H. Y. Hind's Sketch of an Overland Route to British Columbia. 

Toronto. 1862. pp. 38. 
Memorial of the People of Red River to the British and Canadian 

Governments. Sessional Papers of Canada. 1863. 
A Great Territorial Road to British Columbia. Quebec. 1863. 

PP. 57- 

The Oil Wells of Enniskillen. Canadian Journal. Toronto. 1863. 

pp. 4. 
A National Railway from Quebec to Halifax. Toronto. 1863. 
Report on the Intercolonial Railway Exploratory Survey. Quebec. 

1865. pp. 160. 
The Short Ocean Passage. In Report on the Intercolonial. 1865. 

Opening of the Pictou Railway. Halifax. 1867. pp. 28. 


Intercolonial Railway. Letter to the Premier on the System of 

Construction. Ottawa. 1869. pp. 19. 
Short Service for Sunday. Canadian Pacific Railway. Ottawa. 

1871. pp. 7. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Report and Exploratory Survey. 

Ottawa. 1872. pp. 80. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Loss of Lives on Exploration. Ottawa. 

1873. pp. 10. 
Ocean to Ocean. (By G. M. Grant.) Toronto. 1873. pp. 371. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Practical Suggestions. Ottawa. 1874. 

Pp. 59- 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Report on Surveys and Explorations. 

Ottawa. 1874. pp. 286. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. General Instructions to Engineering 

Staff. Ottawa. 1875. pp. 36. 
North Shore Railway. Report on Difficulties between Engineer and 

Contractor. Ottawa. 1875. pp. 27. 
The Intercolonial Railway. Genesis of the Bridges. Ottawa. 

1875. pp. 41. 

Canadian Pacific Railway. Reply to Governor Morris. Route of 
Railway West of Keewatin. Ottawa. 1875. pp. 53. 

Newfoundland Railway. Report on Surveys. St. John's. 1876. 
pp. 147. 

Memoir on Uniform Non-local Time. London. 1876. pp. 37. 

The Intercolonial. An Historical Sketch: 1832-76. Montreal. 

1876. pp. 268. 

Description of the Country between Lake Superior and the Pacific 
Ocean on the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Ottawa. 

Uniform Non-local Time. London. 1876. pp. 32. 

Terrestrial Time. London. 1876. pp. 37. 

Report on Surveys on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Ottawa. 

1877. pp. 431. 

Short Sunday Service for Travellers. Montreal. 1877. pp. 124. 
Canada and its Undeveloped Interior. Proceedings of Royal Colonial 

Institute. London. 1878. pp. 55. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Report on Location and Harbours in 

the Pacific. Ottawa. 1878. pp. 104. 
Temps terrestre. Paris. 1878. pp. 35. 
North Shore Railway. Report on Route Maskinonge to Montreal. 

Ottawa. 1878. pp. 12. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Report on Progress. Ottawa. 1879. 

pp. 142. 
Chemin de fer canadien du Pacifique: 1877-9. Montreal. 1879. 

pp. 608. 


Time Reckoning and the Selection of a Prime Meridian. Toronto. 

1879. pp. 68. 

Daily Prayers for Busy Households. Montreal. 1879. pp. 70. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Memorandum to the Minister of Rail- 
ways and Canals. Ottawa. 1880. pp. 17. 
Canadian Pacific Railway. Report on Construction. Ottawa. 

1880. pp. 373- 

Canadian Pacific Railway. Farewell Address to Staff. Ottawa. 

1880. pp. 7. 

Return of Papers in connexion with the Withdrawal of Sandford 
Fleming from the position of Engineer-in-Chief of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway. Ottawa. 1881. 

Chancellor's Inaugural Address. Queen's University. Queen's 
College Journal. Kingston. 1881. pp. 10. 

Uniform Standard Time. Transactions of American Society of Civil 
Engineers. 1881. pp. 6. 

Adoption of a Prime Meridian. Address before the International 
Congress at Venice, Italy. London. 1881. pp. 15. 

Cosmopolitan Scheme for Reckoning Time. Transactions of Ameri- 
can Metrological Society. New York. 1881. pp. 10. 

Standard Time for United States, Canada, and Mexico. Trans- 
actions of American Society of Civil Engineers. New York. 

1881. pp. 34. 

L'Adoption d'un maltre meridien international. Londres. 1881. 
pp. 16. 

On Uniform Standard Time for Railways, Telegraphs, and Civil 
Purposes generally. Transactions of American Society of Civil 
Engineers. New York. 1881. pp. 6. 

Chancellor's Address, Queen's University. Queen's College Journal. 
Kingston. 1882. 

Return to an Address of the Senate of Canada. Correspondence 
relating to a Submarine Telegraph between Canada and Asia. 

Memorandum in reference to a Scheme for completing a great Inter- 
colonial and Inter-continental Telegraph System, by establish- 
ing an Electric Cable across the Pacific Ocean. London. 1882. 
PP. 25. 

Standard Time. Transactions of A merican Society of Civil Engineers. 
New York. 1882. 

Canadian Pacific Railway. Review of the Report and Conclusion 
of the Royal Commission. Ottawa. 1882. 

Letter on Standard Time. Transactions of American Association 
for Advancement of Science. 1882. 

Standard Time for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Ottawa. 

1882. pp. 8. 


Standard Time for the World. International Standard. Cleveland. 

1883. pp. 4. 

Time Reform and a Prime Meridian. Transactions of American 
Metre-logical Society. New York. 1883. pp. 5. 

Standard Time at the St. Paul Convention. Transactions of Ameri- 
can Society of Civil Engineers. 1883. pp. 7. 

Recommendations to the International Prime Meridian Conference 
at Washington. 1884. pp. 12. 

The Time Reform Movement. Transactions of American Society of 
Civil Engineers. 1884. pp. n. 

A Prime Meridian and Time Zero. International Prime Meridian 
Conference. Washington. 1884. pp. 12. 

Uniform Standard Time. Transactions of American Society of Civil 
Engineers. 1884. 

The Prime Meridian Question. International Standard. Cleveland. 

1884. pp. 8. 

Standard Time at the Buffalo Convention. Transactions of American 

Society of Civil Engineers. 1884. pp.7. 
Universal Time Reckoning. Transactions Canadian Institute. 

Toronto. 1885. pp. 101. 
Uniform Standard Time. Transactions of American Society of Civil 

Engineers. 1885. pp. 4. 
The New Time Reckoning. Smithsonian Report. Washington. 

1886. pp. 22. 
Time Reckoning for the Twentieth Century. Transactions Royal 

Society of Canada. Ottawa. 1886. pp. 13. 
Documents in reference to the Establishment of Direct Telegraphic 

Connexion between Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Great 

Britain. London. 1886. pp. 28. 
Documents in reference to the General Adoption of a Twenty-four 

Hour Notation on the Railways of America. Ottawa. 1887. 

pp. 49. 
Treatise on Time for the Use of Schools. Ottawa. 1888. pp. 26. 
Chancellor's Address at Semi-centennial Jubilee of Queen's Univer- 
sity. Queen's College Journal. 1889. pp. 3. 
Time Reckoning for the Twentieth Century. Ottawa. 1889. pp.22. 
The Unit of Time. Transactions Royal Society of Canada. Ottawa. 

The Waterways of Canada. Proceedings International Congress on 

Inland Navigation. Manchester. 1890. pp. 8. 
Cable Service England to Australia. Letter to Fellow-Colonists. 

London. 1890. pp. 4. 
Our Old-fogy Methods of Measuring Time. Engineering. 1891. pp.15. 
A Universal Prime Meridian and Time Zero. Report of Department 

of Science and Art. London. 1891. pp.17. 


Nomenclature in Time-reckoning. Transactions Royal Society of 
Canada. 1891. pp. 7. 

Fixing of a Standard of Time. Ottawa. 1891. pp. 36. 

Documents relatifs a l'unification de l'heure. Ottawa. 1891. pp.31. 

Parliamentary v. Party Government. Queen's College Journal. 
1891. pp. 16. 

Reforms in Time-reckoning. Transactions Canadian Institute. 
Toronto. 1891. pp. 15. 

Electoral representation. Transactions Canadian Institute. To- 
ronto. 1892. pp. 17. 

Address on fifth Installation as Chancellor of Queen's University. 
Queen's College Journal. 1892. 

A System of Direct Telegraphic Communication throughout 
the Empire. Letter to Sir John Lubbock, Chairman of 
the Associated Chambers of Commerce. London. 1892. 
pp. 12. 

The Rectification of Parliament. Transactions Canadian Institute. 
Toronto. 1892. pp. 173. 

Address at the Opening of the Medical Faculty, Queen's University. 
Queen's College Journal. 1892. 

The General Adoption of the Twenty-four O'clock Notation on the 
Railways of America. 1892. pp. 21. 

Ocean Steam Navigation. Transactions Canadian Institute. To- 
ronto. 1892. pp. 10. 

Early Steamboats. Transactions Canadian Institute. Toronto, 
pp. 4. 

Postage Stamps and Colour Blindness. Transactions Canadian 
Institute. Toronto. 1892. pp. 2. 

A Memorable Epoch in Canadian History. Transactions Canadian 
Institute. Toronto. 1893. 

Historical Pictures. Transactions Canadian Institute. Toronto. 

A Change in the Astronomical Day. Transactions Astronomical and 

Physical Society. Toronto. 1893. 
Return to an Address of the House of Commons of Canada. Papers 

relating to the proposed Commission to inquire into the most 

feasible means of completing the Telegraphic System of the 

Empire. Ottawa. 1892. 
Memorandum on the Pacific Cable addressed to the Australian 

Governments. Ottawa. 1893. pp. 8. 
Address to Chamber of Commerce of Melbourne giving reasons why 

a Pan-Britannic Cable is necessary for the Empire at large. 

Melbourne. 1893. 
The Mission to Australia. Papers relating to the Pacific Cable. 

Ottawa. 1894. pp. 53. 


Unification of the Astronomical Civil and Nautical Days. Trans- 
actions Canadian Institute. Toronto. 1894. PP- 9- Also in 
Transactions A stronomical and Physical Society. Toronto. 1 894. 

The Pacific Cable. Statement for the Colonial Conference. Ottawa. 
1894. pp. 12. 

Canada's Ocean Highways. Proceedings Royal Colonial Institute. 
London. 1896. 

Early Days of the Canadian Institute. Transactions Canadian Insti- 
tute. Toronto. 1899. pp. 24. 

Letters and Remarks on the Pacific Cable and the All-British Cable 
System. Correspondence and Documents with reference to the 
Pacific Cable. Ottawa. 1900. 

Post Office Reform in the Victoria Era, and the Development of 
an Imperial Cable Service. Proceedings Royal Society of Canada. 
Ottawa. 1900. 

Canada and British Imperial Cables. Ottawa. 1900. 

Documents relating to the Pacific Cable. Ottawa. 1901. 

Postal Cable Development. Empire Review. London. 1901. 

Postal Telegraph Service by Sea and Land. Ottawa. 1902. 

Memorandum on Pacific Cable, and Telegraph Service of the Empire. 
In Coronation Conference Paper. London. 1902. 

An Empire-girdling State-owned Telegraph Service. In The All Red 
Line. Ottawa. 1903. pp. 15. 

The Meaning of the Pacific Cable. Queen's Quarterly. Kingston. 

Transportation and its Development. The Globe. Toronto. July 

2, 1904. 
Build Up Canada. Transactions Canadian Club. Toronto. 1904. 
The Establishment of a Great Imperial Intelligence Union. Address 

before the Eighty Club. London. 1906. 
The Establishment of an Imperial Intelligence Service and a System 

of Empire Cables. Ottawa. 1906. pp. 63. 
Views on the Establishment of an Imperial Intelligence Service 

on a Comprehensive Scale. Ottawa. 1906. pp. 31. 
Memories of the Mountains. Canadian Alpine Journal. 1907. 

PP- 23. 
Imperial Cable Service to Circle the Globe. Ottawa. 1907. pp. 26. 
Nova Scotia and the Empire. Halifax. 1908. 
The Metric System. Transactions Royal Society of Canada. Ottawa. 

1908. pp. 9. 
The World-girdling Cable and its State-owned Atlantic Section. 

Ottawa. 1909. pp. 8. 
The Memorial Tower and the Beginning of the Empire. Halifax. 

1910. pp. 21. 
The Empire-girdling Cable. Ottawa. 191 1. pp. 9. 


Admiralty, 160, 168-70. 

All-Red Line, 157, 159, 167, 191- 

Apamana, 168, 189. 
Ascension, 192, 198-9. 
Ashburton Treaty, 76, 93-4. 
Athabaska, 115, 12 1-5. 
Australia, 154-69, 172-3, 177, 189- 

99, 204-8, 223, 251, 261. 
Australian Governments, 161, 165, 
169-70, 197. 

Barbados, 192, 198. 

Barrie, 52-5. 

Beaconsfield, Lord, 156. 

Bermudas, 192, 198. 

Bethune, Mr., 7, 22-3, 30-2. 

Bird Island, 187-8. 

Blake, S. H., 60, 235. 

Bowell, Sir Mackenzie, 160-2, 168- 

71, 186-7, 251. 
Brisbane, 253, 274. 
British Association, 217-19. 
British Columbia, 61-7, 70, 107-9, 

112-15, 126, 131, 154, 162, 258, 

Brunei, Alfred, 52. 
Burrard Inlet, 1 14-15. 
Bute Inlet, 114, 129. 
Buxton, Lord, 257. 
By town, 23-5. 

Cable Telegraphs, world-encircling, 
46, 159, 199, 208, 263 ; State- 
owned, 166, 191-3, 253. 

Campbell, Sir Alexander, 157, 160. 

Canada, Dominion of, 89, 94, 102-7, 
126, 258, 262-5, 268-9, 273-4; 
Provinces of (Upper and Lower), 
23, 26, 50, 51, 70, 73-4, 78-9, 89- 
91, 102-5, 260. 

Canadian Club, 258, 266, 273. 

— Governments, 49-50, 65, 71, 76- 
9, 84, 91-2, 96-100, 106, 1 10-16, 
156, 160-6, 169-70, 188, 197, 

— Institute, 28, 37-46, 99, 212, 219, 
223-5, 284. 

Canadian Journal, 38-9. 
Canadian Pacific Railway, 46-9, 78, 

106-20, 125, 130, 147-51, 154-6, 

223, 228, 260-3, 280-1. 
Canals, 21, 259. 
Cape Town, 192, 274-5. 

Carlyle, 7-8, 10, 150-1. 

Carmichael-Smyth, Major, 78, 108. 

Cartier, G. E„ 89. 

— , Jacques, 103-4. 

Chaleur Bay, 77-8, 84-6, 93, 95, 

Chamberlain, Joseph, 265. 
Charlottetown, 89, 90, 274. 
Cheadle, W. B., 127-8, 149. 
Chicago, 88, 218-19, 258. 
Classical studies, 230, 245-6. 
Cobequid Mountains, 78, 80, 95. 
Cobourg, 26, 33, 47. 
Cocos Island, 192, 198. 
Collingwood, 52-6,120, 130, 152,259. 
Cologne, 221, 226. 
Colombo, 255. 
Colonial Office, 66, 78-9, 157-8, 

161, 164-5, I 7°» J 7 2 , 187, 190-1, 

Columbia country, 124; — River, 

108, in, 116, 133, 136, 138; — 

University, 249. 
Confederation, 85, 89-92, 102, 104. 
Conferences, Colonial, 1 57-60, 162-3, 

172, 174, 176-7, 185, 191, 208, 254. 
Connaught, Duke of, 42, 96, 275. 
Connolly, Archbishop, 231. 
Cumberland, F., 52-4, 56. 

Dawson, G. M., 67 ; — Route, 113, 

120 ; — , S. E., 22. 
Deakin, Hon. Alfred, 204-5. 
Dennis, J. Stoughton, ^$, 47. 
Dickens, 228-9. 
Doyle, Sir Charles Hastings, 99. 

Eagle Pass, 119, 136, 138. 

Eastern Telegraph Co., 158-64. 

Edmonton, 63, 115, 120-5, J 49» 275. 

Edward VII, 58, 71, 151-2, 166. 

Egypt, 214, 255-6. 

Eighty Club, 206. 

Elgin, Lord and Lady, 33-4, 49, 56 

Ellice, Edward, 12. 
Empire, British, see Imperialism. 
Erie, Lake, 7, 23, 30-2. 

Fairbairn, H., 50, 74-5. 

Falkland, Lord, 77. 

Fanning Island, 163, 168, 170, 181;, 

Fiji, 163, 166, 189, 252. 



Fingal's Cave, 143-4. 

Fleming, Andrew Greig, 7, 152. 

— , David, 12-15, 2 °» 22-7, 29, 152. 

— , Frank, 120, 130, 153. 

Fleming, Sandford, ancestry, 7 ; 
birth, 7 ; becomes engineer, 9 ; 
goes to Canada, 12-18 ; at Peter- 
boro, as draughtsman, 32 ; arti- 
cles himself to a land-surveyor, 
33 ; at Toronto, 36 ; helps to 
found Canadian Institute, t>7 '> 
on staff of Northern Railway, 47 ; 
chief engineer, 56 ; marriage, 57 ; 
captain in militia, 57-8 ; pleads 
cause of Red River Colony, 61- 
71 ; surveys for Intercolonial 
Railway, 73-95 ; chief engineer, 
80-99 '> advocates Short Ocean 
Passage, 84-9 ; promotes con- 
federation of Canada, 89-92 ; 
removes to Ottawa, 96 ; con- 
tracts for Pictou Railway, 100 ; 
engineer-in-chief of C. P. R., 106 ; 
chief engineer of Newfoundland 
Railway, 106; surveys for C. P. R., 
107-39, l A7S° » tours in British 
Isles, 140-7, 150-2, 211-12; ad- 
vocates Pacific Cable, 154-90, 
251-7 ; attempts to secure Necker 
Island, 167-90 ; advocates the 
' All-Red Line ', 191-200 ; pro- 
poses Imperial Intelligence Ser- 
vice, 201-10 ; advocates Stan- 
dard Time movement, 211-25 » 
trip to Europe, 225-34 ; Chan- 
cellor of Queen's University, 235 ; 
voyage to Australia, 251-5 ; to 
England, 255-7 ; inaugurates the 
Halifax (N. S.) Memorial Tower, 
271-5 ; character and aims, 276- 
8 ; death, 278. 

Foreign Office, 169-71, 178, 180, 

Fort Garry, 11 2-1 3, 120-21, 131, 

Fort William, no, 115, 120, 267. 

Fraser River, 110-11, 1 14-16, 126-9. 

Fredericton, 77, 82-3, 93. 

Fundy, Bay of, 50, 74, 77. 

Galloway, Joseph, 202. 

Genoa, 233-4. 

George V, H.M., 37, 249. 

Georgia, Straits of, 114, 129. 

Georgian Bay, 52, 259-60. 

Germany, 221, 226-8. 

Giant's Causeway, 140, 144. 

Gilmour, Allan, 236. 

Gisborne, F. N., 154. 

Gladstone, W. E., 77. 

Glasgow, 13-14. 140-2- 

Gordon, Very Rev. D. M. 236, 249. 

Gordon, Willie, 140-2. 
Governments, Colonial, 156, 160-2, 

164, 166, 169, 193, 197. See also 

Canadian Governments. 
Grand Trunk Railway, 49, 56, 79, 

94, 98, 114, 123-6, 259, 279. 
Grant, Rev. G. M., 120, 130, 152, 

235-6, 240, 249. 
Grecian Bend, The, 95. 
Greenwich, 214, 219, 221-3. 
Grey, Earl, 200, 249, 250. 
Griffith, Sir Samuel, 254. 
Gzowski, Sir Casimer, 30. 

Halifax (N. S.), 75-9, 83-4, 90-6, 
99, 104-5, Io8 » l2 °> l2 9> 2I 3> 225, 
231, 234; 265, 271-5, 278. 

Hancock, E. C, 52-3. 

Hawaiian Islands, 167-71, 175, 
178-89, 252. 

Heaton, Sir John Henniker, 255. 

Hector, Dr., 122-3, J 34« 

Hind, H. Y., 61, 67, 109. 

Holland, 225-6. 

Honolulu, 167-88, 251-2, 255. 

Hopetoun, Earl of, 254. 

Howe, Joseph, 78, 108, 202. 

Hudson Bay, 264. 

Hudson Bay Co., 62, 66, 121, 257-8. 

Huron, Lake, 48, in, 261-2. 

Hutcheson, Dr., 26-7, 31-2. 

Illecellewaet, 136-8. 

Imperial Government, 50, 70-9, 89, 

154, 156, 159-66, 169-76, 179-81, 

186-8, 197, 220. 
Imperial Intelligence Service, 201- 

10, 284. 
Imperialism : 

British Empire, 102, 107, 158-9, 
189, 191, 196, 271-2, 275. 

Fleming's Imperialism, 46, 107-8, 
155-6, 200, 201, 241, 265, 277. 
Imperial policy, 88. 

— projects, 112, 260, 268-73. 

— unity, 164, 166, 194-6, 199-210, 
261, 263, 269-77. 

Indian Ocean, 192-8, 255. 
Indians, North American, 27, 42, 

49, 103-4, 129-31. 134. 139. 251. 

Intercolonial Railway, 46, 49, 72- 

107, no, 120, 225, 234-6, 280. 
Iona, 143-4. 

Ireland, 85-9, 140, 211-12, 225. 
Irving, Edward, 10, 150-1. 
Italy, 214-15, 221, 228-34. 

Japan, 77, 169, 214-15, 222-3. 
Jasper, 125 ; — House, 123; — Lake, 

124; — Valley, 115, 124, 227. 
Johnson, George, 49-5°. 74. io8 - 



Kamehameha, King, 170, 179, 182-4. 
Kamloops, 116, 127-31, 136, 138-9. 
Kennoway, 7, 12, 22, 25. 
Kicking Horse Pass, 116, 125, 131- 

9 ; — River, 134; — Valley, 

King, Hon. J. A., 182-3, 187. 
King's College, 28, 237, 242. 
Kingston, 23-9, 33, 235-9. 
Kirkcaldy, 7-1 1, 25, 145, 150-1, 


Laprairie, 21, 51. 

Laurier, Sir Wilfrid, 163-4. 

Lefroy, Sir J. H., 42-3. 

Leopold, Prince, 152. 

Liverpool, 83-8, in, 119, 147, 225, 

London, England, 88, 147, 157, 160, 

192, 198, 205, 209, 225, 257. 
Londonderry, 140, 211-12. 
Louise, Princess, 152. 

Macdonald, Sir John, 89, 98, 156, 

225, 235. 
— John Sandfield, 65, 70, 73. 
McGee, T. D'A., 89-92, 108. 
Mcllwraith, Sir T., 253. 
Mackenzie, Alexander (1822-92), 

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander (1755 ?- 

1820), 108, 115, 117. 
McLeod, 117; — River, 121. 
MacNab, Sir Allan, 29, 35. 
Macoun, John, 120. 
Maine, 76, 79, 84, 93, 99. 
Manitoba, 107, 115,253,259-66, 274. 
Mary, Queen, 249. 
Melbourne, 204, 254, 274-5. 
Memorial Tower, Halifax, 96, 271-5. 
Mercer, Sir W. H., 187. 
Meridian, see Prime Meridian. 
Metapedia, 78, 81, 152-3, 226. 
Metrological Society, American, 

219-20, 225. 
Military considerations, 93-5, 115, 

Militia, Canadian, 57-8, 99. 
Milton, Viscount, 127-8. 
Minto, Earl of, 43. 
Miramichi, 104; fire, 81, 103; — 

River, 78. 
Monck, Lord, 70, 73. 
Montreal, 7, 18-23, 33~7» 5°. 84, 89- 

94, 108, 116, 119-20, 130, 264-5. 
Moody, Major-Gen., 11 4-1 5. 
Moose Factory, 264-5 » — Lake, 

126; — River, no. 
Moren, Dr., 120. 
Mount Stephen, Lord and Lady, 

116, 152, 257. 
Mowat, Sir O., 42, 89. 

Naples, 231-3. 

Necker Island, 167-90, 257. 

New Brunswick, 50-1, 73-9, 82-4, 

89-93, 102-3, 261, 268, 274. 
New South Wales, 169-71, 193, 253, 

New York, 85-91, 213, 257. 
New Zealand, 154-7, 161-6, 171, 

189-98, 206-8, 273-4. 
Newcastle, Duke of, 70, 71,73. 
Newfoundland, 18, 85-8, 106, 274. 
Norman, Sir Henry, 254. 
North Thompson River, 116, 127, 

Northern Railway, 47-61, 120. 
Northern Route, 267-8. 
Nottawasaga, 52-5, 279. 
Nova Scotia, 50, 64, 73-84, 89-95, 

99-102, 261, 268, 271-4, 284. 

Ontario, Lake, 23, 48, 235, 259; 
Province of, 28, 49, 52, 261, 264- 
6, 274. 

Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron Rail- 
way, 47, 49, 52. 

Ottawa, 35, 49, 96, 116, 147, 155, 
187,196,199, 205,253,257-8,274; 

— Conference, 161-2, 172-4, 177, 
185-6, 191 ; — River, 23, 1 12-13, 

Ottonabee, 27, 260. 

Pacific Ocean, 174, 179, 219, 252 ; 

— Cable, 154-91, 193, 196-7, 
251-4, 257, 281-4 ; Pacific Cable 
Committee, Imperial, 163. See 
also Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Palliser Expedition, 67, 109, 134,149. 
Pan-Britannic Telegraph Service, 

194-8, 201, 209, 283-4. 
Paris, 1 5 1-2, 234. 
Passmore, F. F., 38. 
Patey, Captain, 179, 183. 
Pender, Sir John, 158. 
Penetanguishene, 48, 52-3. 
Perth (W. A.), 192, 275. 
Peter boro, 26-7, 32-3, 47, 235. 
Pictou, 13, 81 ; — Railway, 99, 

100, 279. 
Pipon, Captain, 77-8. 
Pollock, Sir F., 203. 
Pompeii, 232-3. 
Port Hope, 26, 28, 258. 
Port Moody, 114, 116, 119. 
Port Simpson, 114, 266. 
Portland (Maine), 79, 93-4. 
Post Office, British, 163, 170, 284. 
Postal Service, 197, 202, 208. 
Presbyterianism, 23, 132, 230, 234, 

237-8, 240. 
Prime Meridian, 212, 219-23, 225, 

230, 252. 



Quebec, 7, 18, 20, 21, 26, 50, 73-4, 
76-80, 83, 89-93, 102, 105, 229, 
264-8, 274; Province of, 51, 227, 
261, 266, 274. 

Queen's College, 26 ; — University, 
44, 235-50. 

Queensland, 163, 168-71, 189, 253- 
4. 274. 

Red River Colony, 60-71, 109-10, 

1 15-16, 120-1, 256, 258-9, 279. 
Religious services, 12, 23, 120, 132, 

152, 230, 234, 257. 
Restigouche, 78, 101, 153, 226. 
Rice Lake, 26-7. 
Richards, A. N., 60. 
Rideau Canal, 24, 108, 259 ; — 

Falls, 24 ; — Lakes, 23, 25. 
Ridout, Thomas, 44-5. 
Riot at Montreal, 33. 
Ripon, Lord, 170-2, 180, 257. 
Rivi&re du Loup, 77-82, 84, 89. 
Robinson, Major, 78. 
Roche a Myette, 122-6, 227. 
Rocky Mountains, 62-4, 107-116, 

1 21-6, 154, 227, 260, 284; — 

River, 124. 
Rogers, Major, 131, 136. 
Rome, 214-15, 221, 230-31. 
Rose, Sir John, 145, 151. 
Rosebery, Lord, 170-2, 176-7. 
Royal Society, 219. 
Russel, Andrew, ^3- 

Saguenay, 226, 263. 

St. Andrews (New Brunswick), 50, 

74-6, 93-4. 
St. Andrews University, 249. 
St. Helena, 192, 198. 
St. John (N. B.), 75-80, 84, 90-4, 

— River, 76-7, 93. 
St. John's (NF.), 86, 88-9, 274. 
St. John's (Quebec), 21, 51. 
St. Lawrence, River, 20-1, 33, 48, 

50, 51, 74, 77-80, 94, 259-63, 270. 
Salmon and other Fishing, 9, 101, 


Sang, John, 7, 9, 12. 

Saskatchewan, 61-3, 108-11, 263, 
267, 275. 

Selkirk, 115 ; — Range, 130-1, 136; 
— Settlement, no. 

Shaughnessy, Sir T., 266. 

Shediac, 80, 84. 

Short Ocean Passage, 84-9. 

Smith, Goldwin, 230, 235. 

South Africa, 192, 197-9, 208, 273. 

Staffa, 143-4. 

Standard Time movement, 40, 211- 
25, 280-4. See also Prime Meri- 
dian, Time-Reckoning. 

Stanmore, Lord, 82. 
Strathcona, Lord, 1 16-19, x 53- 
Struve, Otto, 220, 224. 
Suez Canal, 214, 255-6. 
Superior, Lake, 61-5, 107-15, 148, 

154-5, 258, 262-3, 266. 
Sydney (N. S. W.), 174, 253-4, 274. 

Tache, Sir Etienne, 89-90. 
Telegraphs, 68-9, 149, 154-5, 158-9, 

1 9 1-5, 263. See also Cable, Pacific 

Tete Jaune Cache, 115, 126-8. 
Thompson, Sir J., 185. 
Thompson River, 114; 116, 128-9. 

See North Thompson R. 
Thunder Bay, 113, 120, 149. 
Tilley, S. L., 73, 82, 89. 
Time-Reckoning, 211-24, 280-4. 
Todd, A. H., 35. 
Toronto, 26-9, 33, 35-7, 40-1, 47-9, 

52-8, 99, 120, 130, 152, 173-6, 

213, 217, 258-9, 274, 279 ; Univ. 

of — , 242. 
Transcontinental Railway, 68-9, 73, 

119, 147, 212, 268. 
Truro (N. S.), 77-8, 84, 89, 99. 
Tully, Kivas, 37, 44-5. 
Tupper, Sir C, 73, 82, 89-92, 157, 

170-2, 176-7, 257. 
Turin, 234. 
Turkey, 159, 215, 223. 

United Empire Club, 205. 

United States of America, 50-1, 64- 
7, 72-6, 93-4, no, 131, 159, 170, 
182, 188-9, 2I 3, 219-23, 252, 
258, 263, 266. 

Vancouver, 64, 1 14-16, 119, 129, 
154, 159, 163, 168-70, 174-7, 185, 
189, 192, 198, 251, 254, 265. 

Venice, 220, 225, 229. 

Verona, 228-9. 

Victoria (Australia) , 1 69-7 1 ,204,274. 

— (B. C), 48, 52-3, 114, 129, 274. 

Victoria, Queen, 34-7, 45, 53, 66, 
122, 126, 145, 169, 239. 

Walpole, 23; — Island, 252. 
Washington, 170-1, 182, 188, 220-3. 
Wiley, Col., 35, 57. 
Wilson, Sir Daniel, 42, 219-20 ; — , 

John, 50, 74. 
Winnipeg, 67, 112, 1 15-16, 130-1, 

258, 264-7, 274; Lake — , 108, 

262, 266. 

Yellowhead Lake, 1 26 ; — Pass, 

113-16, I2i, 125-6. 
Yule, Captain, 50, 76, 93. 

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